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SEFT DAY SCHOOLS 

Saturday, March 20, 1971 at Derby College of Art 


‘ APPROACHES TO FILM ’ 


The School is designed primarily for film 
teachers and will examine various approaches 
to film teaching. Fort Apache will be 
screened and John Ford’s work discussed. 

The lecturers are Jim Hillier and Alan 
Lovell of the BFI. Coffee, lunch and tea 
will be provided. School fee £1.50. 

For applications and further Ian Christie 

information contact: Complementary Studies 

Derby College of Art 
Kedleston Road 
DERBY DE3 1GB 
Derby 31681 ext 8 


Saturday, May 1, 1971 at Sheffield School of Art and Design 

‘ STYLE AND MEANING ’ 

The School is designed primarily for film 
teachers and will examine the relation 
style to meaning in the cinema. Decision 
at Sundown by Budd Bsetticher will be 
screened. Coffee, lunch and tea will be 
provided. School fee £1. 

For applications and further Gerry Coubro 

information contact: School of Art & Design 

Sheffield Polytechnic 
Psalter Lane 
Brincliffe 
Sheffield 11 
Sheffield 56101 



iZ m m O t/i 


SEFT Summer School 
Loughborough University 18-24 July 

STUDIES IN TELEVISION 

A week of practical and critical study of television. 
Topics include the content of television programmes 
and the use of television in education. Students will 
use the closed-circuit television equipment. 

This course is part of the University Summer Pro- 
gramme which caters for the whole family. Courses 
for wives. Creche and activities for children. 

Cost £27. Details of this and other courses of inter- 
est to teachers and lecturers from: 

Centre for Extension Studies (S) 

University of Technology, Loughborough, 
Leicestershire LE11 3TU 
Telephone: 050 9363171 

Special issue — Summer 1971 

Fred Camper — The Films of Douglas Sirk 
Documents on German Theatre and Sirk 
Dave Grosz — Douglas Sirk and visual perception 
Thomas Elsaesser — Reinhardt/Piscator/Sirk 
Jean-Luc Godard ■ — A Time to Love and a Time to Die 


to subscribe to Screen for one year. I enclose a cheque/ 
Postal Order for 

To: SEFT Name 

81 Dean Street Address 

London W1V 6AA 

Subscription rates: UK £1.80; USA $6.50 





Editorial 


With this issue there are significant changes in Screen — a new editorial 
board, a new format and a different kind of content. The changes are 
the result primarily of a reassessment of the relation of film to education 
and therefore of the position and function of Screen, 

The policy of Screen — set out in this editorial and initiated in practice 
by this issue ^ — is less a sharp break with the past than a reconsideration 
of the methods and assumptions which informed that past. The opera- 
tion of self-reflection and self-criticism and the very fact of a Screen 
editorial defining a policy and making a demand for theory and practice 
related to it in themselves represent a significant departure. 

Screen is in a special position. It is an independent journal of an inde- 
pendent Society concerned with film, television and education, but work- 
ing within the British Film Institute. Screen has more stability than most 
film j'ournals being rooted in a movement while it differs from all other 
film j'ournals in its explicit commitment to education. This commitment 
frees Screen from the practical ' reviewing ’ kind of criticism engaged in 
by other journals, while it imposes on Screen an analysis of the relation 
between film and education which gives to Screen a wider field of 
operation than these journals. And the relative financial security of 
Screen allows it to pursue this relation in some depth. 

This opportunity must be seized by Screen to develop theories of film 
study, to analyse theories of education as these affect film study and by 
these operations help to define methods and techniques in both film 
study and film education. 

This emphasis in Screen on theory is crucial. Educational and critical 
practice has for too long remained unconscious and unaware of itself. 

4 




The development and criticism of theoretical ideas is required to make 
meaningful, to provide a context for, what has in the past remained at 
the level of anecdotal accounts of teaching experience. Screen will aim 
to go beyond subjective taste- ridden criticism and try to develop more 
systematic approaches over a wider field. Criticism is but one element 
in the study of the cinema which also involves locating film in a specific 
system of production and consumption and of seeing it in relation to the 
other arts and to the culture which it reflects and reflects upon. Above 
all film must be studied as a new medium, a product of this century and 
of the machine, and which as a new medium and a new mode of expres- 
sion challenges traditional notions of art and criticism and the system of 
education which still in part is tied to these notions. 

Screen is committed to the development of theoretical ideas and more 
systematic methods of study, but has no single all-embracing theory. On 
specific issues and approaches members of the editorial board differ and 
these differences will find expression in the pages of the journal to 
make of Screen a forum for controversy, self-criticism and debate in 
which readers are asked to participate. 

The work of Screen will be pursued beyond and outside the pages of the 
journal as well as within those pages. In Screen will be not only the 
theoretical analyses promised but also direct practical information on 
film extracts, duplicated materials, film conferences, meetings, seminars, 
books, study units (and notes and criticism of these). Outside Screen 
but directly linked to it and to its editorial board will be a number of 
seminars meeting on a regular basis (the editorial board itself functions 
as a seminar) to investigate various problems of film theory and certain 
areas of film expression. Some of these seminars already function — 
Bazin and American Realism, the Soviet Cinema, Women and the 
Cinema, Film in Art Education. The work of these seminars will be 
reflected in the pages of Screen. And also outside Screen, but again 
linked to it, will be the activities of the Society whose journal it is — 
regional one-day schools, viewing sessions, the summer school, the 
annual general conference. All of these activities of Screen and of the 
Society constitute the work of Screen, work both practical and theoretical 
mutually informing one another in order to help develop what does not 
yet exist — a theory of cinema as the context for the teaching of film. 

The Editorial Board 


5 



ATTIC PUBLISHING LIMITED 


The success of The Craft of Film, first published in April 1970 and now used 
as a standard text book by virtually all film-making courses in Britain, Is to 
be followed by a series of publications using a similar method of presenta- 
tion. The first two titles. Television and Audio Visual Media, are now in 
preparation and will be available later this year. These, too, will be designed 
not only to present a basic stock of information, but to offer a unique ser- 
vice whereby the book can never be out of date. 

Because The Craft of Film UpDating Service has proved to be Intrinsic 
to the concept of the book, one year's subscription has been included in 
the price of the book. This service is now to be administered by a panel of 
leading figures in film-making and teaching, who will advise on and select 
the material to be included in the bi-monthly packets of new and revised 
pages. 

The new publications in the series will be supervised by similar panels 
who, with other experts, will also write the basic book and then act as a 
consultative body for the subsequent updating material. 

Attic also publishes, on behalf of the British Kinematograph Sound 
and Television Society, the booklets and technical manuals associated 
with the Society's highly successful training courses and seminars. These 
publications are written by acknowledged experts in each subject and are 
profusely illustrated. 

Basic Television Technology. Part One : Monochrome; Part Two : Colour. 
Part Two is now being reprinted. £3.00 each part, £5.00 per set. 

Sound for Film and Television. Also being reprinted. £3.00 

Image Quality and Control of Motion Picture and Television Film. £3.00 
Advanced Television Technology. In preparation, ready June 1971. £3.00 

Television at Work. An introduction to the applications and technology of 
television. Explains in simple terms the basic principles of television and 
how the medium can be app!ied*in education and industry; with a wide- 
ranging reference section. £1.00 

There are in addition a number of technical papers and booklets on 
film, television and associated arts and techniques, details of which are 
available by writing to the publishers. 


ATTIC PUBLISHING LIMITED 


128-130 St Ann's Road, London W11 
'Tel: 01-727 8185 


Chairman's Foreword 


The Society for Education in Film and Television is a changing organ- 
ization. From this issue Screen is converted from a bi-monthly to a 
quarterly publication. The price of a single copy has been increased but 
the annual subscription rate has been reduced. 

The more significant changes in the journal and in the Society reflect 
developments in education generally. The Society must adapt itself to 
these or lose its claim to being a professional organization of teachers. 
Its members by virtue of their interest in teaching film are committed 
to change in education. The results of the reorganization of secondary 
education have been usually beneficial to the film teaching movement 
and resulted in more flexible teaching programmes and the revaluation 
of courses offered at CSE level and below. In fact one of the conse- ' 
quences of reorganization has been a radical rethinking of the curricu- 
lum generally and there can be little doubt that ' curriculum develop- 
ment ’ ■will present teachers with as many challenges as ' reorganization ’. 

This imposes on all of us in screen education an obligation to engage 
in a similar rethinking of our own work. For Screen this means going 
beyond the simple unreflective .reporting of classroom practice and 
attempting an analysis of aims and methods in teaching film and tele- 
vision. What are we trying to achieve? What pedagogic principles lie 
behind our practice? What is the essential discipline and content of our 
subject? It is in response to questions like these that educational theory 
and practice must go hand in hand with criticism. For our teaching 
must be based on an informed attitude towards the films which form 
the * texts ’ in our course. In ensuing issues therefore Screen will 
endeavour to explore both the curricular justification for the study of 
film and television in schools and colleges and developments in film 
criticism. To do the latter effectively it must be concerned not merely 
with the current popular successes in cinema or film society but more 
particularly with key films in the development of critical ideas and," of 

7 


course, with those ideas themselves. In education. Screen must concern 
itself with curriculum theory in related subjects as well as in screen 
education and with the implications of developments in teacher training 
and the universities as well as the schools. In this way the journal may 
hope to inform and influence those in the local and national institutions 
who help to shape the curriculum. The humblest effort in film teaching 
depends ultimately for survival on the attitude and financial backing of 
those with executive power in education. 

We recognize, however, that Screen has also an important role to play 
in the reporting of news which affects film booking, new releases, new 
equipment, etc. We hope that those of you who felt these vital matters 
of information have been neglected recently will find them conveniently 
grouped in the ' new ’ journal. 

There have been changes too in the Society. Terry Bolas has taken up a 
new post at Edgeware School. The Society owes him a great debt for his 
patient and painstaking work as the Society’s Secretary and joint Editor 
of Screen. The general committee of the Society felt that in the new 
appointment the importance of editorship of the journal should be 
reflected by incorporating these responsibilities with those of the new 
Secretary. We welcome Sam Rohdie, who was previously lecturer in 
film at the Sheffield Polytechnic, as the new General Secretary of the 
Society and Editor of Screen and also his assistant Diana Matias. Chris 
Bott who has been our invaluable Treasurer for several years has re- 
signed because of pressure of other commitments. We are most grateful 
for his scrupulous work on behalf of the Society. Ed Buscombe who 
teaches at Acton Technical College has taken over this responsibility. 
Finally, following my move from Reading to Leeds from where it is 
difficult to fulfil the duties of Chairman efficiently, I am resigning from 
the post. Until the Society’s AGM in May, Jim Cook, who teaches at 
JFS Comprehensive School, London, is acting Chairman. 

The Society can succeed only as far as its members support it. We are 
fortunate in having a close working relationship with the British Film 
Institute’s Education Department. This relationship brings many advant- 
ages. We want to put these and all the resources of the Society at the 
disposal of its members. The membership should shape the policy of 
the Society. Do this by reading the journal, responding to its challenges 
and above all by contributing to its pages. 

Roger Watkins 


8 



Education and Criticism 

Notes on work to be done 

Sam Rohdie 


I 

Screen has made a demand for theory, for an aesthetics of film. It has 
promised to help develop one. What is the need? Why now? Is it 
merely voluntarist (let’s have theory)? Or intellectualist (ideas are 
always important)? What is the present state of film production and 
thinking on film to necessitate such a demand? And what is the present 
state of education- — how is film taught? Where would film theory 
insert itself? Is the practice of film theory, teaching of film? What is 
the relation of education to criticism? 

This essay will not be a little self-contained complete piece, bit follow- 
ing on bit, but a sketching of problems to determine tasks of work. 

II 

Early in the history of the cinema some thought it a revolutionary mode 
of expression. It was not simply a new art, but one which promised to 
supersede the old arts of painting, sculpture, theatre. And with that 
supersession a destruction of older notions of art, of culture, of aesthetics. 
Alexander Dovzhenko ... 

Before I began to work in films in 1926, I had been a painter. I was not yet 
a master of my craft, but felt fairly confident that in another ten or twelve 
years I might be. At that time, however, the leftist papers and periodicals 
carried articles on the uselessness *of painting and its expected demise as an 
art, and these led me to reflect on my chosen profession. 

In June of 1926, after a sleepless night of examining my accomplishments up 
till that time, I left my Kharkov apartment and my painting materials behind, 
took my stick and suitcase . . . and started for Odessa, where I joined a 
cinema studio. I stood on the shore of the Black Sea like a naked man, 
thirty-two years old, starting life from the beginning again. The cinema, I 
thought, was the one art which was fresh and new, with enormous creative 
potentialities and opportunities. I knew little about it — indeed, I very rarely 
saw films. I may have been mistaken about painting, but I was quite right 
about the part that film would play in our Soviet life. 

Or, El Lissitsky . . . 


9 




The innovation of easel painting made great works of art possible, but it has 
now lost its power. The cinema and the illustrated weekly have succeeded it. 
We rejoice in the new means which technique has put into our hands. 

Walter Benjamin equally rejoiced in the new machine technology. To 
him, film, produced by the machine and producing by means of the 
machine, posed the possibility of a revolutionary critique of traditional 
concepts of art, hence of tradition and culture itself. 

. . . the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the 
domain of tradition. . . . (The film’s) social significance, particularly in its 
most positive form, is inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic aspect, 
that is, the liquidation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage. . . . 

Earlier much futile thought had been devoted to the question of whether 
photography is an art. The primary question — w’hether the very invention of 
photography had not transformed the entire nature of art — was not raised. 
Soon the film theoreticians asked the same ill-considered question with regard 
to the film. But the difficulties w’hich photography caused traditional aesthetics 
were mere child’s play as compared to those raised by the film. . . . 

So long as the movie-makers’ capital sets the fashion, as a rule no other 
revolutionary merit can be accredited to today’s film than the promotion of a 
revolutionary criticism of traditional concepts of art. 

What has in fact occurred? Neither film in its practice, nor film criticism 
have realized any of these expressed revolutionary hopes. (Or, has the 
revolution happened and no one noticed?) Both film and its critique are 
easy modes of consumption. The 'fine’ arts have not succumbed to 
machine pressure. The cultural heritage is intact, indeed, film is placed 
clearly within it, and the critical terms addressed to film are equally 
addressed to the other arts (though usually with considerably more 
sophistication and yield). What indeed has gone wrong? 

Ill 

What has happened in criticism is at least partially clear. Everywhere 
the auteur theory is established — endless tomes on this or that director, 
his world view, stylistic peculiarities, undoubted greatness, individual 
mastery. The best, the select, sit in state, enthroned on Mt Olympus, a 
theological, near transcendent classical pantheon of creators. 

Auteurs are out of time. The theory which makes them sacred makes no 
inroad on vulgar history, has no concepts for the social or the collective, 
or the national. 

The primary act of auteur criticism is one of dissociation — the auteur 
out of time and history and society is also freed from any productive 
process, be it in Los Angeles or Paris. The system in which a director 
works is something to extricate him critically from, to be rejected as 
mere * noise ’, an unfortunate intrusion on the individual creative artist. 
If a few, the better critics, ask how a director stands to relations of 


10 



production, none ask how the director stands tvHhin these. It is assumed 
(or seems to be) that for purposes of criticism he is always outside. 

Auteur theory had an important, even necessary role post-war as part of 
a polemic for mass culture. It discovered artistry where before there was 
only industry, system, but its enthusiasm took hold of it and overtook it 
resulting in an extreme romantic aesthetic of individual creativity. This 
aesthetic has dominated the field of film criticism with only slight 
modification and needs to be explained as the extraordinary cultural 
phenomenon it is. (The mass culture argument is not sufficient explana- 
tion.) 

Work now must be devoted to the auteur theory, on the auteur theory, 
and not the auteur theory used as a means to do work on film. And that 
work must not be one of refining auteur concepts, but rather of explain- 
ing them. How did they come about? Where? When? At what cultural 
juncture? At what point in the practice of film criticism and in the 
practice of film-making? Why is auteur criticism so ' aura ’-orientated, 
concerned with sacred artistic values? Rather than challenging ideas 
derived from the ' fine ’ arts, why has it succumbed to these? Why has 
it ignored the social, the technical relations of film production? What is 
the ideology behind auteur theory? What culture, what society, what 
system of cultural and social (hence educational) domination does it 
presuppose and is implicit within it? 

The question earlier posed — 'what indeed has gone wrong?’ — in 
part may find its answer by work on the auteur theory, the intellectual 
justification, the rationale for non-revolution, non-destruction and non- 
confrontation of the established culture. 

IV 

Individual creativity in the cinema is undeniable. To deny auteur criti- 
cism is not to deny that fact, nor to devalue the importance of that fact. 
But it is to add ignored dimensions — the social, the cultural, the tech- 
nical, the historic. The problem is to integrate these dimensions into a 
theory and aesthetic of cinema (without allowing film to be absorbed 
by these into sociology, anthropology, linguistics, literary criticism, art 
history — the established academic disciplines). 

If, indeed, film is a new kind of object, requiring its own particular 
theory, a new discipline with specific methods and techniques, would 
such a discipline not be challenge to existing theory, to established 
aesthetics? The revolution which Benjamin believed he saw? 

V 

What has happened, is happening in film? Auteur criticism culturally 
is not an isolated phenomenon. Since its appearance (but not necessarily 


11 



due to that appearance) an extraordinary emphasis has been placed 
within film-making on individual creativity and expression, on formal 
structure rather more than on social communicability and comprehension. 
Whether it is mainstream, underground, or somewhere-in-between 
cinema continuous narrative structures have been broken, made more 
elliptical, surface values have come to the fore, an older previous 
naturalist convention has been thrown over. 

Films are increasingly more difficult to comprehend. Emphasis is less on 
presenting some sort of reality than in presenting perspectives on reality 
and on modes of perceiving. Film has become more personal, more 
private, more subjective. Cults have formed, handbooks of de-coding, 
deciphering have been written. 

What is it all about? A step forward towards ' art ’ (as some of the 
avant-garde would have us believe), or a step to the rear? Is it an 
absorption of film by a cultural tradition which regards art as sacred, 
ritualized, unique, personal and for the few? Where does auteur criti- 
cism stand in relation to present film production? It expresses a similar 
ethic of individual artistry, yet buries itself in an archaeology of the past 
or the not so present — Ford, Hitchcock, Hawks, Mann and seems 
without terms or understanding for new movies, new directors (with 
distorting and often disastrous effects on film education). 

What has happened to film to make it something more esoteric, ‘ artis- 
tic more a thing made by a director, present and self-conscious in the 
movie, less popular, less social? Is this the revolution in art, in film, in 
any terms? What kind of a move culturally and artistically is it — some- 
thing simply bound up with the economics of film production and the 
individualization of productive means (the underground, producer- 
directors, increasing cheapness of entry, yet higher production costs, 
shortage of corporate capital, reduction of corporate investment) ? What 
is the relation between such moves in capital and artistic ones? When, 
where, how did it happen? 

The replacement of one mode of artistic expression, a set of formal and 
social-ideological attributes for another, with an attendant shift in tech- 
nical and economic modes of production, is a crucial and important area 
of study — seemingly a necessary part of work towards film theory. 

VI 

The practical work of Screen is education. It is not primarily a journal 
for professional intellectuals, film critics, cinephiles, but for practising 
teachers. For it to be intellectualist would not only be sterile in itself, 
but it would not serve its supposed educational practice. 

The practice and ideology of education both deserve critical scrutiny, 

12 



for it seems to me (and this is not an editorial but a personal statement) 
that Screen would be guilty of dereliction of its role if content merely to 
' enlighten ’ teachers, suggest curriculum and swap experience. The 
whole area of educational experience — the context in which teachers 
operate — needs be questioned. 

The ethos, for example, of art and design schools, where * art ’ is still 
considered precious, individual, made on an artisanal base of produc- 
tion, where film is consigned to liberal studies and carefully excluded 
from aesthetics and art history, and where film-making is about personal 
creativity, film poems, little celluloid canvases in the manner of the 
underground. Can film studies be usefully taught or developed in this 
atmosphere? Must the assumptions about art in these schools, and the 
schools themselves be first confronted, scandalized, even attacked? 

This essay has been concerned most with questions (the answers are 
not available) and with defining things to be done. The biggest set of 
questions (and perhaps the least answerable because given so little 
thought) relate to education — its organization, assumptions, modes of 
domination, relation to politics, to social structure. Questions about 
these problems, how do they relate to questions asked of film and film 
criticism? 

Education serves as a mode of cultural consumption and of social dom- 
ination. Film and film criticism exist in a related area. They are struc- 
tured together and the precise nature of that structure, how formed and 
how developing must be examined. Specifically, where does film educa- 
tion take place? Where is it allowed? How did this happen? What 
were the rationales? What in fact are the existing relations between 
criticism and teaching? How have these developed? How changed? Is 
there a kind of film criticism which cannot be taught unless teaching 
and education are themselves altered? 


13 



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Sociology and the Cinema 


Terry Lovell 


Sociology I take to be systematic and intersubjectively verifiable know- 
ledge of social phenomena — societies, social relations, institutional 
structures, role-complexes, etc. Insofar as the cinema is a social phen- 
omenon, it is amenable to sociological analysis. 

There is some difficulty of reference between ' sociology of cinema ’ and 
'sociology of film’. That this distinction is possible or necessary is in 
part an accident of language. In other cases, no distinction is made 
between the activity and the product. ‘ Science ’ refers both to the prac- 
tice of scientists and to scientific knowledge. ' Art ’ has a similar dual 
connotation. ' Sociology of art ’ and ' sociology of science ’ may concen- 
trate on either aspect : ' sociology of knowledge ’ in its traditional 
form, relates the product to social phenomena; modern sociology of 
science tends to concentrate on the activity, on what has been concept- 
ualized as ' the social system of science ’. 

Film constitutes what Talcott Parsons ^ has termed an ’ expressive 
symbol system ’. That is to say, it is a symbol system in which the expres- 
sive orientation is dominant. However just as an emotion must have an 
object, so an expressive orientation is an orientation towards something. 
Therefore expressive symbol systems must also have cognitive and 
evaluative references. They distinguish and relate, and appraise the 
objects which they cathect. Film as an expressive symbol system includes 
orientations towards 

1. itself; 

2. states of affairs in the world (realism); 

3. possible states of affairs, both desired and feared (fantasy). 

The logical possibilities of relating cinema and sociology are wide. 
Film/cinema may be related either to sociological knowledge or to social 


15 




phenomena. These are relationships of a different order. Both are of 
some importance. If we take the first relationship, it is obvious that 
between the two types of symbol system, there is a possibility of an 
infinite regression, since each may be object for the other ad inpnitum. 
I know of no film which takes sociology as its subject. Alison Lurie, 
■however, has written just such a novel,* and no doubt the cinema will 
come round to it in time. Secondly, films may, and possibly must, ex- 
press ideas about, and attitudes towards, the social world, and these may 
be compared and contrasted with sociological knowledge. It is a truism 
that many sociological insights have been achieved by creative artists, 
and one part of ' sociology of film ’ might be to examine films for such 
insights. When sociologists analyse single films, it is often from this 
point of view. An example is Robertson's analysis of Antonioni’s trilogy.® 

If the relation in question is between social phenomena and the cinema/ 
film, then that relation may be conceived as either conceptual or causal, 
or both. In either case, this type of sociology of film is macro-sociological, 
in that it looks for relations between the film/cinema and the wider 
social system within which it occurs. Reflection theories of the cinema 
see the world which the cinema creates as a mirror, possibly a distorting 
one, of the real world. This relation is conceptual rather than causal. 
However, reflection is clearly only a limiting case of the possible types 
of conceptual relations. To Claude Levi-Strauss must go the credit for 
developing an awareness of the breadth and range of possibilities in- 
herent in the situation.^ For on the model of his work on myth and 
social structure, we may proceed by breaking down the world of film 
and the social world into its elements, and working out the logical 
possibilities of variation and relation. For it is his thesis that for any 
' collective representation ’ some operation may be discovered whereby 
it may be seen as a transformation of the social order. The range of 
possible operations is very large, including inversion. This perspective 
leads to a move away from the simple reflection thesis, to a search for 
the actual and possible relations between film and society. A descriptive 
morphology of this kind is an 'essential preliminary to any type of 
sociology of film. 

I do not know of any study which postulates a direct causal relationship 
between film and social phenomena in which meaning or at least con- 
vention is not an intervening variable. V. Kavolis has made this attempt 
in the case of styles of painting, in a series of articles.® The difficulty of 
such a venture is the problem of providing a plausible linking mechan- 
ism between the characteristic of the work of art, eg its style, and the 
alleged social determinant. For Kavolis, the linking mechanism is 
psychological. On the whole this approach does not seem too promising, 
not least because of the philosophical difficulties which it raises. 

16 



Most of the studies which postulate a causal nexus between film and 
social phenomena, operate with the concept of hi^uence, a para-causal 
concept. But the plausibility of the alleged influence is contingent on 
perception of yneanhig. The model in its simplest form alleges a 
modelling of behaviour, for instance, on film experience. But this pre- 
supposes an interpretation of the film, and an extrapolation, as it were, 
from the film of its relevance for real-life situations. The link between 
film and subsequent behaviour is therefore both conceptual and causal. 
The conceptual relations limit the possibly causal influences. ' Effects ’ 
studies which proliferated in the 'twenties and 'thirties, culminating in 
the Payne Fund Studies,® are of this type. Social Control theories of film 
are also of this kind. 

sociology and aesthetics 

Since in every case except that of Kavolis, an interpretation of the films 
in question is logically prior to any question of influence, the dependence 
of sociology on film theory (which I take to be a branch of aesthetics) is 
evident. For the task of developing tools and methods of interpretation 
and analysis of films belongs in the first instance to film theory. However 
the units of analysis traditionally utilized by film theorists may not be 
appropriate to the sociologists' needs. Commissions may be as significant 
as the dominant themes. For example, on an admittedly cursory reflec- 
tion, the achievement motif which commentators have often taken as 
the defining characteristic of American culture, appears iii curious forms 
on the screen. The proverbial ' rags to riches ’ theme is rare; a meteoric 
rise often signals an equally dramatic and inevitable fall (gangster 
genre). In the case of women, social climbing through marriage is 
typically denigrated. (Walsh : The Tall Ale?i.) Citizen Kane is perhaps 
the paradigm case, yet it stands alone in placing this old theme in its 
classical setting. There seems to be a curious reticence in the screen hand- 
ling the theme of social mobility, in the so-called ‘ land of opportunity ', 
and as often as not, its dysfunctions rather than its benefits are stressed 
(' It's lonely at the top ! ’). 

Taken as a whole, the preoccupation of the cinema with interpersonal 
relations, especially those of courtship and love, surely requires some 
explanation. 

I have slipped almost inevitably into the assumption that thematic analy- 
sis will be the appropriate tool for sociology. However, I take it that in 
fact what is aesthetically significant is not the themes as such, but the 
patterning of themes, which depends on relationships between them. 
Other types of patterning are also presumably aesthetically significant, 
for example the formal stmeture of films. Sociology of film is logically 
dependent on aesthetics if it is to be sociology of film, in its primary 

'17 



aesthetic aspects, since it is film aesthetics and not sociology which defines 
the aesthetic response. The task of analysis of the aesthetic significance 
of film is necessary if sociology of film is to be anything other than 
peripheral. The poverty of sociology of film merely reflects the inade- 
quacies of film theory. 

•Despite this, sociology of film has a degree of independence also, in so 
far as it is interested in tracing influences as well as isomorphisms be- 
tween patterns in films, and the patterning of the social order. For the 
sociologist, interest will be in the films under that description under 
which they were influential, rather than the more specialist interpreta- 
tion. Film theory is not necessarily restricted to an account of the audi- 
ence response. Like linguistics and like philosophy of science, it has an 
ineliminable normative component as well as a descriptive one. The film 
theorist may, over time, change the audience perception of film. Sociolo- 
gists may create more sophisticated audiences. But at any given point of 
time, the sociologically relevant description is unlikely to overlap entirely 
with that of the specialist film-theorist. This point may be illustrated by 
reference to Max Weber’s ' Protestant Ethic ’ thesis.^ He has often been 
taken to task for the fact that his interpretations of the consequences of 
Calvinism were not the logical consequences of that doctrine, taken 
literally, but were based on popularizations, on sermons ‘and tracts, 
analysed in order to extract their probable psychological consequences 
for the typical believer.® Theologians would undoubtedly object to some 
of these interpretations, with as much and as little justification as the 
film theorists objection to the interpretation offered by sociologists. To 
repeat, in so far as the sociologist is interested in influence, he has a 
degree of autonomy from the film theorist: yet only a small degree, 
since that influence is mediated by meaning (in the widest sense of that 
term). And clearly the more subtle the sociologist’s understanding of 
the films, the more aware will he be of the range of possibilities for 
the influence of films. 

micro-sociology of film/cinema 

If studies which attempt to relate film to the wider social context, in 
whatever manner, are macro-sociological, then studies which concentrate 
on the internal relations and development of film/cinema from a socio- 
logical point of view, may be termed micro-sociological. There are two 
main traditions here. The first is exemplified by Ian Jarvie’s recent book,® 
in those parts where he describes the institutional structure of the cinema, 
and uses his method of situational logic to trace out the implications of 
various role-positions within that structure. The second centres on the 
concept of movement, and tries to account for either structural or cultural 
changes, or both. Huaco’s study is an example of this approach. The 


18 



first is particularly appropriate where a given art form has a determinate 
and differentiated organizational structure; in short, to the extent that it 
is institutionalized. Of all the arts, traditional and popular, film seems to 
fit these conditions most nearly. It is the social art par excellence, and is a 
fit subject for this kind of institutional/structural analysis, on the model 
perhaps of sociology of science. 

film movements 

The concept of movement is taken from the socio-political universe of 
discourse. It is related to other concepts, such as revolution, and change. 
It might be useful to look at these in their original context, to see 
whether sociological accounts of such phenomena may be borrowed, and 
applied in this area. 

A socio-political movement is either aimed at preventing, or inducing 
social change. ' Movement ’ is an intentional concept, implying collective 
action towards some conscious goal. A. F. C. Wallace’s definition of 
' revitalization movement ’ is pertinent : ' a deliberate and self-conscious 
attempt to provide a more satisfying culture ’. 

By contrast, ' revolution ’ stresses achievement rather than iritehtionality. 
A cluster of changes in the social structure can only be characterized as 
a revolution after the event. There are, strictly speaking, no failed revo- 
lutions, although there are many failed movements. A revolution may 
only be said to have failed in terms of some analysis of the revolutionary 
potential of some situation, which was not exploited. It is rarely the 
case that revolutionary change coincided with the aims and interests of 
any single social movement. Where this is so, it is simply a limiting 
case, rather than the norm. A revolution often, perhaps usually, is the 
outcome of many movements which may be heterogeneous and even 
opposed in their aims and interests. The French Revolution, the para- 
digm case for all theorists of revolution, is a case in point.^^ Neverthe- 
less, it is not merely an umbrella concept, since each of the movements 
may arise from the same cause, and ultimately, will be analysed in terms 
of their contribution to the final outcome; to the breaking up of the old 
order, and the forging of the new. Such a phenomenon is unitary, when 
its several elements arise from the same circumstances, and jointly lead 
to some definite and radical change, whether that outcome was intended 
or not. 

the nouvelle vague — a case study in sociology of film 
movements 

I would like to suggest that the so-called ' French New Wave ’ may 
usefully be analysed within these terms of reference. 


19 



The term ' new wave ’ was a convenient journalistic label, probably 
originating from I’Express, used as acknowledgement that the French 
cinema was undergoing rapid change on several fronts, rather than to 
refer to any well-defined, unitary phenomenon. During the period from 
roughly 1958-1961, a large number of young directors made their first 
• feature film. Between 1958-60, the number was over 100. As -Jacques 
Siclier remarked, nothing like it had ever happened before in France, 
or elsewhere. This represents between one-quarter and one-third of the 
total number of films, including both French, and co-productions, in that 
period. Clearly something very unusual was happening. 

Only part of the ' New Wave ’ can be called a movement, however, 
namely the nucleus of Cahiers critics turned directors — Godard, 
Truffaut, Chabrol, Rivette, Rohmer, and Doniol-Valcroze. Other identi- 
fiable groupings include the Left-Bank group of Resnais, Marker, and 
Varda, and that of Malle, Demy, and Vadim. Considered individually, 
these directors are each very different, especially when their later devel- 
opment is taken into consideration. Nonetheless the New Wave heralded 
recognizable innovations of style and theme, which I shall attempt briefly 
to sketch.^^ 

The lack of any social dimension is characteristic of the typical New 
Wave film. Its heroes are neither personally nor socially integrated, and 
are dissociated from their social roles. Indeed it is not always possible to 
identify those roles. They are marginal men, disaffected intellectuals, 
students, and in one case (The Sign of the Lion), a rather high-class 
tramp. Interest centres purely on immediate face-to-face relations. They 
have no apparent family ties, on the whole, no political affiliations. 
Action is engaged in for its own sake, and this is often arbitrary and 
motiveless. There are no social antecedents of action, only emotional and 
volitional. There are no points of articulation between the individual 
and society. Nor are these anomic lives placed in any broader setting. 
The milieu of the individual exhausts the films' compass. 

The subjective and objective worlds are fused, also those of reality 
and fantasy. The epistemology dominant in the West since Descartes, 
with its egocentrism, and the dominant values of individualism and 
liberty, are here reduced to absurdity. Egotization of the world reaches 
the point of solipsism, where the ego submerges, and is in turn sub- 
merged in, the objective world. The interiority of the subject is lost. The 
world is paradoxically depersonalized. Resnais and Godard are twin 
poles of this phenomenon. 

All this stands in marked contrast to the naive realism of the French 
cinema of the 'forties and -’fifties. Stylistic and technical innovations are 
equally marked. Perhaps more in the commitment to experiment and 
innovation, rather than in any specific set of innovations. 


20 



This thumb-nail sketch obviously would not fit exactly the work of any 
single director of the period. It over-simplifies, and it is also reductive. 
It is intended to mark a break, rather than to adequately characterize the 
emergent set of interests and ways of looking at the world. 

I shall adapt Smelser’s theory of collective behaviour,^^ for the purpose 
of analysis of the generation of the New Wave. Smelser uses the logic of 
value-added for his theory. Each stage in the process ' adds its value ’ to 
the final outcome. At each stage, the range of possibilities of outcome is 
narrowed. His set of determinants are as follows : structural conducive- 
ness, structural strain, growth and spread of a generalized belief, (in 
terms of which the situation is redefined), precipitating factor, mobiliza- 
tion of participants for action, and finally, social control. This analysis 
will inevitably be simplified, as it would be necessary to distinguish the 
various groups of participants in the New Wave. Here, I shall concen- 
trate on the directors involved. However, within the framework of 
analysis chosen, the phenomenon is as much defined by the behaviour 
of the financiers and producers who sponsored the films, as by the film- 
makers themselves. Any full-scale analysis would have to be allied with 
the first ' micro-sociological ’ approach identified above as institutional/ 
structural analysis, there may be relevant changes at many points in the 
system, and different parts of the system will be differentially affected 
by any changes which do take place. 

1. Structural Conduciveness 

It is a truism that no movement, political or cultural, will get off the 
ground unless the contextual circumstances are favourable. I shall ex- 
amine some aspects of the structure of the French industry at the time, 
although this will not be comprehensive or complete. 

(i) Production and Finance 

The French cinema is structured horizontally along functional lines, in 
contrast to the American, which contains major vertical cleavages, at 
least this is true of the heyday of the Studio system. The French cinema 
was and is highly segmented. Such a structure is likely to be relatively 
conservative in its choice and promotion of films. But on the other hand 
it lacks a power structure in which any systematic discriminations could 
be made. Innovatory films may find some outlet. The system itself has 
high survival value, since there are no monolithic structures whose fall 
would have ramifications throughout the industry. 

The French industry is small and marginal. It has suffered endemically 
from lack of capital, a small turnover, and underinvestment. It is mar- 
ginal both because of its small size, in relation to other industries, and 
in its lack of integration with the industrial sector. This characteristic 


21 



partly stems from the nature of film itself. It has a product which cannot 
be standardized. Each production is a prototype. Financial success is in 
principle uncertain and unpredictable. Yet large sums must be committed 
in advance. There is no possibility of a trial and error approach, in which 
a limited risk is taken. But large profits may be made with a single out- 
standing success. The film is hired and not sold, therefore its dissemin- 
ation costs little more in the case of success than of failure. In sum, the 
norm of economic rationality could hardly flourish here. The ethos of 
change, and h/ck, rather than the calculated risk, is paramount. Holly- 
wood abounds in quasi-magical practices to ensure success. The Weberian 
‘ spirit of capitalism ’, frugal, careful, and conservative, is less in evi- 
dence than a more primitive spirit of adventure capitalism. 

The risk taken is unevenly distributed among the various participants. 
The producer takes no personal risk, as he is guaranteed a 7 per cent 
return, regardless of the fortunes of the film. Foreign producers, dis- 
tributors, and the State, in that order, bear the largest share of the cost, 
although the risk again varies. 

French film production is an occasional and sporadic activity. In any 
year, only about one-fifth of the number of registered production com- 
panies are active. The majority produce only one film. ‘ Th*e producer 
makes a film in the manner in which one mounts a hold-up. Each one 
is different from the last, each time he must seek collaborators and 
creditors.’ 

The average cost of film-making rose from 0.60 million francs in 1956, 
to 2.97 in 1966. But at the time of the New Wave, costs were still 
relatively low. 

(ii) Distribution 

Distributors play a key role in the French industry. A few large com- 
panies dominate the market, and receive a large share of total revenue. 
It is a more highly capitalized sector than production. It is increasingly 
important as a source of film finance. 

(iii) Exhibition 

There are no large circuits. The overall ratio of exhibitors to houses is 
almost one to one. This sector has been severely hit by the crisis. 

(iv) State 

The Centre Nationale du Cinematographie (CNC) controls everything 
to do with finance and receipts of films. It grants authorizations to make 
films, issues professional cards of identity, gives advances and subsidies, 
and organizes professional and technical training. The amount of con- 
trol and intervention is greater than in any other non-socialist State. 


22 



(v) Audience 

The common conception of film is of an essentially popular art, with a 
mass, heterogeneous audience. The composition of the French audience 
seems to have changed in recent years. It is on average, more highly 
educated than the British or American, and of different social com- 
position. Regular cinema-goers are drawn more from professionals and 
intellectuals, and the middle classes, than is the case in Anglo-Saxon 
countries. It may be that in this respect, France merely leads a general 
trend, Chevalier and Billard point out that this fact accords with the 
growing recognition of the cinema in other arts, especially literature, 
where since about mid-century, cinematic references are as frequent as 
were theatre and theatre-going references previously. There is evidence 
of growing cultural integration of film. Here, too, France surely is ahead 
of other countries. 

In sum, the French film industry contains no monolithic giants to domin- 
ate and shape it. But its very segmentary nature militates against any 
high degree of voluntary innovativeness. It may respond to outside 
pressure of events, but is not highly self-directed. Incentives to innovat- 
iveness are few. The cinema in general unites two opposing tendencies 
— the search for novelty and the search for a jormula. It involves a high 
degree of risk for innovation, but an equally high reward when success- 
ful (eg Warner Brothers and sound). Its product is not divisible, and 
therefore it is difficult to experiment.^^ The failure of an innovation may 
mean extinction, especially to the small producer. The French industry is 
composed almost entirely of small producers. On the other hand it does 
not penalize its innovators where it may not actually promote them. 
France has a tradition of the privately financed, single venture, and such 
films played a key role in the French New Wave. There is a greater 
possibility of distribution and exhibition of such films in a segmentary 
structure than there is in the circuit system, 

2. Structural Strain 

The history of the French cinema Is a history of crisis. After the war, the 
Blum-Byrnes agreement resulted in a flood of American films with dis- 
astrous effect on the war-damaged indigenous industry. The 1949 Tem- 
porary Aid Law was ameliorative, but the situation was still critical. 
Many well-established directors were unable to work, or did so at a 
much reduced rate. Clair, Autant-Lara, Becker, Duvivier, and Came, 
each had directed only one film during 1946-49. 

In a word, the opportunity structure for creative artists in the cinema was 
very poor. This situation was exacerbated, from the point of view of 
new entrants, by the policy of large subjects, well-known actors and 
directors, and adaptations of works of literature. It was extremely diffi- 


23 



cult for a new director to get launched. In addition, union rules were 
formidable, although these seem to have been loosely enforced. 

The crisis in the cinema traditionally and misleadingly attributed to TV, 
occurred late in France, and can be dated almost precisely at 1957. From 
that date the falling off of audiences was dramatic. At the same time, 
’’ quality ’ films began to wane in popularity. The old well-tried formulae 
were failing. A new definition and restructuring of the situation was 
needed. The precipitating factor was the success of Vadim’s And 
Woman was Created. . . . Today it is hard to recreate its seeming 
novelty. The point is not so much what it contains, as how its success 
was ' read ’, and along what lines it was generalized as a ' formula ’ for 
the future. 

3 and 4. Generalized Belief and Mobilization 

The young critics and would-be directors of Cahiers du Cinema had 
presented precisely a redefinition of the cinema, in terms of which the 
dominant ' quality ’ films were attacked ~ the Bost-Aurenche adapta- 
tions, and films of such men as Came, Clouzot, etc. A ready-made re- 
orientation in terms of the auteur principle, and a different set of cine- 
matic values existed, and the Cahiers group were therefore particularly 
well-placed to benefit from the search for novelty. The ' lines of general- 
ization ’ seized upon were youth, the use of unknown directors and 
actors, and a disregard of all tradition, and for a short period these were 
almost prerequisites for a new director. 

5. Social Control 

This residual category concerns the response to a movement, unlike the 
others, and the conditions for its success rather than its generation. The 
structural factors considered were permissive of the New Wave only on 
condition that it ' produced the goods ’. Conditions at its height, where 
many new directors made a single film, and where many failed to com- 
plete projects, could not last. In the event, the New Wave produced a 
fierce reaction. It was readily extinguished, leaving behind a handful of 
directors who had managed to establish themselves. 

Achievements 

The French New Wave, especially in its critical moment, gave the 
French cinema a new paternity. It instituted a new cinematic cinema, 
whose heroes were directors .such as Renoir, Rossellini, Leenhardt, etc. 
Above all, it integrated the American cinema into its cultural heritage, 
for American directors featured widely in its pantheon. This represented 
the coming of age of the cinema, when it could insist on the value of its 
own past, and refuse to rely for legitimation on borrowings from the 
established arts, especially literature and theatre. Like political inde- 

24 



pendence movements, this coming of age had a certain nativistic element. 
In its insistence on its own autonomy, however, it paves the way for a 
more truly fruitful synthesis with other forms. 

The French New Wave revitalized the French cinema, and upgraded it 
as an autonomous art form. Its repercussions are being felt throughout 
the cinematic world, both in influence on ' the look ’ of films, and more 
importantly, in its initiation of a critical/theoretical debate. For although 
Cahiers made no very great contribution to critical theory, except in the 
person of Andre Bazin, nevertheless its critical judgements remain a 
fixed point of reference for the subsequent debate. 

It failed, at a more parochial level, to change the structure of the French 
film industry. Controls were, if anything, tighter as a result, than they 
were before. Initial capital requirements, for instance, for making a film 
were raised out of ail proportion to increased costs. Union requirements 
were tightened. The net result on this front was merely that a genera- 
tion of film-makers were enabled to force their way into a moribund 
industr)'. They have not, in the process, made the task any easier for 
future generations. Perhaps it was too much to expect them to do. For 
to institutionalize creativity is not impossible, as the social organization 
of science demonstrates. However, in such a necessarily highly capital- 
ized art form as the cinema, it is surely maximally difficult. 

REFERENCES 

1. T. Parsons, The Social System, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1952. 

2. A. Lurie, Imaginary Friends, Heinemann, 1967. 

3. R. Roberston, 'A Sociological Approach to the Cinema’, Scope, Vol 5, 
No 10, 1964. 

4. eg his Structural Anthropology. 

5. eg ' Expressionism and Puritanism ’, Journal of Aesthetics and Criticism, 
21, 1962-3; 'Economic Conditions and Art Styles’, JAAC 22, 1964; 'Econ- 
omic Correlates of Artistic Creativity, American Journal of Sociology, 
1964-65; 'The value-Orientation Theory of Artistic Styles ’, Anthropological 
Quarterly, 1965. 

6. R. C. Peterson and L. L. Thurstone, Alotion Pictures and the Social Attitudes 
of Children, Macmillan, 1933; H.'Blumer, Alouies and Conduct, Macmillan, 
1933; P. M. Hauser, Aiovies, Delinquency and Crime, Macmillan, 1933. 

7. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, Allen & 
Unwin, 1967. 

8. See E. Gellner’s discussion of this point in ' Concepts and Society, Proceed- 
ings of the 5th World Congress of Sociology ’, reprinted in A. MacIntyre 
and D. Emmet, Sociological Theory and Philosophical Analysis, Macmillan, 
1970. 

9. I. Jatvie, Touards a Sociology of the Cinema, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 
1970. 

10. G. Huaco, The Sociology of Film Art, Basic Books, 1965. 

11. A. F. C. Wallace, 'Revitalization Movements’, Anthropological Quarterly, 
reprinted in N. Smelser, Sociology: The Progress of a Decade, Prentice- 
Hall, 1968. 


25 



12. For a discussion of the various currents within the French Revolution, see 
G. Lefebvre, The Coming of the Trench Revolution, Vintage Books, 1947. 

13. Jacques Siclier,-5/g^/ and Sound 29, No 3, 1961. 

14. Much of the material on the French cinema is drawn from L. Chevalier and 
P. Billard, Cinema et Civilization, Universite de Paris, 1968. 

Other sources: 

. French Embassy Press and Information Service. 

The Trench Cinema (undated). 

Esprit, Issue on French” cinema, June I960. 

R. Armes, The Trench Cinema Since 1946, Int Film Guides, Zwemmer, 1970. 
P. Graham, The New Wave, Cinema One series. Seeker and Warburg, 1968. 
Centre Nationale de la Cinematographie bulletins. 

On the French intellectual scene : 

Z. Barbu, Choisisme, European Journal of Sociology. 1963. 

M. Crozier, The Cultural Revolution, Daedelus, 1964. 

15. N. Smelser, The Theory of Collective Behaviour, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 
1962. 

16. Chevalier et Billard, op cit. 

17. For a systematic account of factors promoting or inhibiting innovativeness, 
see E. Rogers, The Diffusion of Innovations, Collier-Macmillan, 1962. 


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26 






Cinema/ldeology/Criticism 


Jean-Luc Comolli and Paul Narboni 


The upheaval of May 1968 in France challenged not only established 
institutions, but established modes of thought. Fihn criticism under the 
impact of the May events, of ideas developed by Althusser in his work 
on Marx, and by a new school of structuralist thought in linguistics and 
anthropology, became increasingly political, Marxist and intellectually 
rigorous in its approach to film. 

In fanuary 1 969 Cinethique began to publish as an explicitly Marxist- 
Leninist film review. And later in the same year Cahiers du Cinema, 
possibly the most wiportant film review of the posl-ivar years, broke 
with its past and defined for itself a new critical stance — Marxist, 
political, scientific — but one different from that adopted by Cinethique. 

The differences between the two reviews provoked serious critical and 
theoretical debate about the relationship of film to ideology, the cultural 
role of film, the means of its production and the nature of political 
cinema. This debate has produced important netv ideas abount the func- 
tion and direction of film criticism and represents a new critical depar- 
ture not yet fully absorbed or even fully knoivn in England. 

In this issue Screen is reprinting the first part of a Cahiers editorial * 
(October-November 1969, Nos 216, 217) relevant to their taking of a 
netv position and to their differences with Cinethique. In future issues of 
Screen it is hoped to publish further material from both those French 
film reviews in order to provide readers with a full discussion of the 
ideas and issues involved. 

S.R. 

* Reprinted with the permission of The Editors, Cahiers du Cinema. 


'27 




Scientific criticism has an obligation to define its field and methods. This 
implies awareness of its own historical and social situation, a rigorous 
analysis of the proposed field of study, the conditions which make the 
work necessary and those which make it possible, and the special func- 
tion it intends to fulfil. 

It is essential that we at Cahiers du Cinema should now undertake just 
such a global analysis of our position and aims. Not that we are starting 
entirely from zero. Fragments of such an analysis have been coming out 
of material we have published recently (articles, editorials, debates, 
answers to readers’ letters) but in an imprecise form and as if by acci- 
dent. They are an indication that our readers, just as much as we our- 
selves, feel the need for a clear theoretical base to which to relate our 
critical practice and its field, taking the two to be indivisible. ' Pro- 
grammes ’ and ‘ revolutionary ’ plans and declarations tend to become 
an end in themselves. This is a trap we intend to avoid. Our objective is 
not to reflect upon what we ‘ want ’ (would like) to do, but upon what 
we are doing and what we can do, and this is impossible without an 
analysis of the present situation. 

/. WHERE? 

(a) First, our situation. Cahiers is a group of people working together; 
one of the results of our work appearing as a magazine.^ A magazine, 
that is to say, a particular product, involving a particular amount of work 
(on the part of those who write it, those who produce it and, indeed, 
those who read it). We do not close our eyes to the fact that a product of 
this nature is situated fairly and squarely inside the economic system of 
capitalist publishing (modes of production, spheres of circulation, etc). 
In any case it is difficult to see how it could be otherwise today, unless 
one is led astray by Utopian ideas of working ' parallel ’ to the system. 
The first step in the latter approach is always the paradoxical one of 
setting up a false front, a ' neo-system ’ alongside the system from which 
one is attempting to escape, in the fond belief that it will be able to 
negate the system. In fact all it can do is reject.it (idealist purism) and 
consequently it is very soon jeopardized by the enemy upon which it 
modelled itself. This ' parallelism ’ works from one direction only. It 
touches only one side of the wound, whereas we believe that both sides 
have to be worked upon. And the danger of the parallels meeting all too 
speedily in infinity seems to us sufficient to argue that we had better stay 
in the finite and allow them to remain apart. 

This assumed, the question is : what is our attitude to our situation ? In 
France the majority of films, like the majority of books and magazines, 
are produced and distributed by the capitalist economic system and within 
the dominant ideology. Indeed, strictly speaking all are, whatever expedi- 


28 



ent they adopt to try and get around it. This being so, the question we 
have to ask is : which films, books and magazines allow the ideology a 
free, unhampered passage, transmit it with crystal clarity, serve as its 
chosen language? And which attempt to make it turn back and reflect 
itself, intercept it and make it visible by revealing its mechanisms, by 
blocking them? 

(b) For the situation in. which we are acting is the field of cinema 
{Cahiers is a film magazine),® and the precise object of our study is the 
history of a film : how it is produced, manufactured, distributed,^ under- 
stood. 

What is the film today? This is the relevant question; not, as it possibly 
once was: what is the cinema? We shall not be able to ask that again 
until a body of knowledge, of theory, has been evolved (a process to 
which we certainly intend to contribute) to inform what is at present an 
empty term, with a concept. For a film magazine the question is also : 
what work is to be done in the field constituted by films? And for 
Cahiers in particular; what is our specific function in this field? What is 
to distinguish us from other ' film magazines ' ? 

//. THE FILMS 

What is a film? On the one hand it is a particular product, manufactured 
within a given system of economic relations, and involving labour 
(which appears to the capitalist as money) to produce — a condition to 
which even ’ independent ’ film makers and the ' new cinema ’ are 
subject — assembling a certain number of workers for this purpose 
(even the director, whether he is Moullet or Oury, is in the last analysis 
only a film worker). It becomes transformed into a commodity, possess- 
ing exchange value, which is realized by the sale of tickets and contracts, 
and governed by the laws of the market. On the other hand, as a result 
of being a material product of the system, it is also an ideological pro- 
duct of the system, which in France means capitalism.® 

No film-maker can, by his own individual efforts, change the economic 
relations governing the manufacture and distribution of his films. (It 
cannot be pointed out too often that even film-makers who set out to be 
’ revolutionary ' on the level of message and form cannot effect any 
swift or radical change in the economic system — deform it, yes, deflect 
it, but not negate it or seriously upset its structure. Godard’s recent 
statement to the effect that he wants to stop working in the ' system ’ 
takes no account of the fact that any other system is bound to be a 
reflection of the one he wishes to avoid. The money no longer comes 
from the Champs-Elysees but from London, Rome or New York. The 
film may not be marketed by the distribution monopolies but it is shot 
on film stock from another monopoly — Kodak.) Because every film is 

29 



part of the economic system it is also a part of the ideological system, for 
' cinema ’ and ‘ art ’ are branches of ideology. None can escape ; some- 
where, like pieces in a jigsaw, all have their own allotted place. The 
system is blind to its own nature, but in spite of that, indeed because of 
that, when all the pieces are fitted together they give a very clear picture. 
But . this does not mean that every film-maker plays a similar role. 
Reactions differ. 

It is the job of criticism to see where they differ, and slowly, patiently, 
not expecting any magical transformations to take place at the wave of a 
slogan, to help change the ideology which conditions them. 

A few points, which we shall return to in greater detail later: every 
film is political, inasmuch as it is determined by the ideology which pro- 
duces it (or within which it is produced, which stems from the same 
thing). The cinema is all the more thoroughly and completely determined 
because unlike other arts or ideological systems its very manufacture 
mobilizes powerful economic forces in a way that the production of 
literature (which becomes the commodity ' books ’, does not — though 
once we reach the level of distribution, publicity and sale, the two are in 
rather the same position. 

Clearly, the cinema 'reproduces’ reality; this is what a' camera and 
film stock are for — so says the ideology. But the tools and techniques of 
film-making are a part of ' reality ’ themselves, and furthermore ’ reality ’ 
is nothing but an expression of the prevailing ideology. Seen in this 
light, the classic theory of cinema that the camera is an impartial instru- 
ment which grasps, or rather is impregnated by, the world in its ' con- 
crete reality ’ is an eminently reactionary one. What the camera in fact 
registers is the vague, unformulated, untheorized, unthought-out world 
of the dominant ideology. Cinema is one of the languages through which 
the world communicates itself to itself. They constitute its ideology for 
they reproduce the world as it is experienced when filtered through the 
ideology. (As Althusser defines it, more precisely; 'Ideologies are 
perceived-accepted-suffered cultural objects, which work fundamentally 
on men by a process they do not understand. What men express in their 
ideologies is not their true relation to their conditions of existence, but 
how they react to their conditions of existence; which presupposes a real 
relationship and an imaginary relationship.’) So, when we set out to 
make a film, from the very first shot, we are encumbered by the necessity 
of reproducing things not as they really are but as they appear when re- 
fracted through the ideology. This includes every stage in the process of 
production : subjects, ' styles ', forms, meanings, narrative traditions; all 
underline the general ideological discourse. The film is ideology present- 
ing itself to itself, talking to itself, learning about itself. Once we realize 
that it is the nature of the system to turn the cinema into an instrument 



of ideology, we can see that the film-maker’s first task is to show up the 
cinema’s so-called ' depiction of reality If he can do so there is a 
chance that we will be able to disrupt or possibly even sever the connec- 
tion between the cinema and its ideological function. 

The vital distinction between films today is whether they do this or 
whether they do not. 

(a) The first and largest category comprises those films which are im- 
bued through and through with the dominant ideology in pure and un- 
adulterated form, and give no indication that their makers were even 
aware of the fact. We are not just talking about so-called ’ com- 
mercial ’ films. The majority of films in all categories are the unconscious 
instruments of the ideology which produces them. Whether the film is 
' commercial ’ or ' ambitious ' modern ’ or ' traditional whether it is 
the type that gets shown in art houses, or in smart cinemas, whether it 
belongs to the ' old ' cinema or the ' young ’ cinema, it is most likely to 
be a re-hash of the same old ideology. For all films are commodities and 
therefore objects of trade, even those whose discourse is explicitly politi- 
cal — which is why a rigorous definition of what constitutes ' political ’ 
cinema is called for at this moment when it is being widely promoted.® 
This merging of ideology and film is reflected in the first instance by the 
fact that audience demand and economic response have also been reduced 
to one and the same thing. In direct continuity with political practice, 
ideological practice reformulates the social need and backs it up with a 
discourse. This is not a hypothesis, but a scientifically-established fact. 
The ideology is talking to itself; it has all the answers ready before it 
asks the questions. Certainly there is such a thing as public demand, but 
* what the public wants ’ means ' what the dominant ideology wants ’. 
The notion of a public and its tastes was created by the ideology to 
justify and perpetuate itself. And this public can only express itself via 
the thought-patterns of the ideology. The whole thing is a closed circuit, 
endlessly repeating the same illusion. 

The situation is the same at the level of artistic form. These films totally 
accept the established system of depicting reality : ' bourgeois realism ’ 
and the whole conserv’ative box of tricks : blind faith in * life ’ human- 
ism ’, ' common sense ’ etc. A blissful ignorance that there might be 
something wrong with this whole concept of ' depiction ’ appears to have 
reigned at ever)' stage in their production, so much so, that to us it 
appears a more accurate gauge of pictures in the ' commercial ’ category' 
than box-office returns. Nothing in these films jars against the ideology, 
or the audience’s mystification by it. They are very reassuring for audi- 
ences for there is no difference between the ideology they meet every 
day and the ideology on the screen. It would be a useful complementary 
task for film critics to look into the way the ideological system and its 


31 



products merge at all levels : to study the phenomenon whereby a film 
being shown to an audience becomes a monologue, in which the ideology 
talks to itself, by examining the success, of films by, for instance, 
Melville, Outy and Lelouch. 

(b) A second category is that of films which attack their ideological 
assimilation on two fronts. Firstly, by direct political action, on the level 
of the ’ signified ’, ie they deal with a directly political subject. ' Deal 
with ’ is here intended in an active sense; they do not just discuss an 
issue, reiterate it, paraphrase it, but use it to attack the ideology (this 
presupposes a theoretical activity which is the direct opposite of the 
ideological one). This act only becomes politically effective if it is linked 
with a breaking down of the traditional way of depicting reality. On fhe 
level of form. Unreconciled^ The Edge and Earth in Revolt all chal- 
lenge the concept of ’ depiction ’ and mark a break with the tradition 
embodying it. 

We would stress that only action on both fronts, ’ signified ’ and ' signi- 
fiers ’ has any hope of operating against the prevailing ideology. 
Economic/political and formal action have to be indissolubly wedded. 

(c) There is another category in which the same double action operates, 
but * against the grain The content is not explicitly political, but in 
some way becomes so through the criticism practised on it through its 
form.® To this category belong AUditerranee, The Bellboy, Persona. . . . 
For Cahiers these films (b and c) constitute the essential in the cinema, 
and should be the chief subject of the magazine. 

(d) Fourth case: those films, increasingly numerous today, which have 
an explicitly political content (Z is not the best example as its presenta- 
tion of politics is unremittingly ideological from first to last; a better 
example would be Le Te7nps de Vivre) but which do not effectively 
criticize the ideological system in which they are embedded because they 
unquestioningly adopt its language and its imagery. 

This makes it important for critics to examine the effectiveness of the 
political criticism intended by these films. Do they express, reinforce, 
strengthen the very thing they set out to denounce? Are they caught in 
the system they wish to break down. . . ? (see a) 

(e) Five: films which seem at first sight to belong firmly within the 
ideology and to be completely under its sway, but which turn out to be 
so only in an ambiguous manner. For though they start from a non- 
progressive standpoint, ranging from the frankly reactionary through 
the conciliatory to the mildly critical, they have been worked upon, and 
work, in such a real way that there is a noticeable gap, a dislocation, 
between the starting point and the finished product. We disregard here 


32 



the inconsistent — and unimportant — sector of films in which the 
director makes a conscious use of the prevailing ideology, but leaves it 
absolutely straight. The films we are talking about throw up obstacles 
in the way of the ideology, causing it to swerve and get off course. The 
cinematic framework lets us see it, but also shows it up and denounces 
it. Looking at the framework one can see two moments in it ; onchold- 
ing it back within certain limits, one transgressing them. An internal 
criticism is taking place which cracks the film apart at the seams. If one 
reads the film obliquely, looking for symptoms; if one looks beyond its 
apparent formal coherence, one can see that it is riddled with cracks : it 
is splitting under an internal tension which is simply not there in an 
ideologically innocuous film. The ideology thus becomes subordinate to 
the text. It no longer has an independent existence : it is presented by 
the film. This is the case in many Hollywood films for example, which 
while being completely integrated in the system and the ideology end 
up by partially dismantling the system from within. We must find out 
what makes it possible for a film-maker to corrode the ideology by re- 
stating it in the terms of his film : if he sees his film simply as a blow in 
favour of liberalism, it will be recuperated instantly by the ideology; if, 
on the other hand, he conceives and realizes it on the deeper level of 
imagery, there is a chance that it will turn out to be more disruptive. 
Not, of course, that he will be able to break the ideology itself, but 
simply its reflection in his film. (The films of Ford, Dreyer, Rossellini, 
for example.) 

Our position with regard to this category of films is: that we have 
absolutely no intention of joining the current witch-hunt against them. 
They are the mythology of their own myths. They criticize themselves, 
even if no such intention is written into the script, and it is irrelevant 
and impertinent to do so for them. All we want to do is to show the 
process in action. 

(f) Films of the ‘ live cinema ' {cinema direct) variety, group one (the 
larger of the two groups). These ar-e films arising out of political (or, it 
would probably be more exact to say: social) events or reflections, but 
which make no clear differentiation between themselves and the non- 
political cinema because they do not challenge the cinema’s traditional, 
ideologically-conditioned method of ' depiction ’. For instance a miner’s 
strike will be filmed in the same style as Les Grandes ramilles. The 
makers of these films suffer under the primary and fundamental illusion 
that if they once break off the ideological filter of narrative traditions 
(dramaturgy, construction, domination of the component parts by a 
central idea, emphasis on formal beauty) reality will then yield itself up 
in its true form. The fact is that by doing so they only break off one 
filter, and not the most important one at that. For reality holds within 


33 



itself no hidden kernel of self-understanding, of theory, of truth, like a 
stone inside a fruit. We have to manufacture those. (Marxism is very 
clear on this point, in its distinction between ' real ' and ' perceived ’ 
objects.) Cf Chiefs (Leacock and a good number of the May films). 

This is why supporters of cinema direct resort to the same idealist ter- 
minology to express its role and justify its successes as others use about 
products of the greatest artifice : ' accuracy ', ’ a sense of lived experi- 
ence ' flashes of intense truth ’, ' moments caught live ’, ' abolition of 
all sense that we are watching a film ’ and finally: fascination. It is that 
magical notion of ‘ seeing is understanding ’ : ideology goes on display 
to prevent itself from being shown up for what it really is, contemplates 
itself but does not criticize itself. 

(g) The other kind of ' live cinema ’. Here the director is not satisfied 
with the idea of the camera ' seeing through appearances ’, but attacks 
the basic problem of depiction by giving an active role to the concrete 
stuff of his film. It then becomes productive of meaning and is not just 
a passive receptacle for meaning produced outside it (in the ideology) : 
La Regne du four. La Rentree des U sines Wonder. 

HI. CRITICAL FUNCTION 

Such, then, is the field of our critical activity; these films, within the 
ideology, and their different relations to it. From this precisely defined 
field spring four functions : ( 1) in the case of the films in category (a) : 
show what they are blind to; how they are totally determined, moulded, 
by the ideology; (2) in the case of those in categories (b), (c) and (g), 
read them on two levels, showing how the films operate critically on the 
level of signified and signifiers; (3) in the case of those of types (d) and 
(f), show how the signified (political subject matter) is always weak- 
ened, rendered harmless, by the absence of technical/theoretical work 
on the signifiers; (4) in the case of those in group (e) point out the gap 
produced between film and ideology by the way the films work, and 
show how they work. 

There can be no room in our critical practice either for speculation 
(commentary, interpretation, de-coding even) or for spacious raving (of 
the film-columnist variety). It must be a rigidly factual analysis of what 
governs the production of a film (economic circumstances, ideology, 
demand and response) and the meanings and forms appearing in it, 
which are equally tangible. 

The tradition of frivolous and evanescent writing on the cinema is as 
tenacious as it is prolific, and film analysis today is still massively pre- 
determined by idealistic presuppositions. It wanders farther abroad to- 
day, but its method is still basically empirical. It has been through a 
necessary stage of going back to the material elements of a film, its 

34 



signifying structures, its formal organization. The first steps here were 
undeniably taken by Andre Bazin, despite the contradictions than can be 
picked out in his articles. Then followed the approach based on struct- 
ural linguistics (in which there are two basic traps, which we fell into — 
phenomenological positivism and mechanistic materialism). As surely as 
criticism had to go through this stage, it has to go beyond. To -us, the 
only possible line of advance seems to be to use the theoretical writing 
of the Russian film-makers of the twenties (Eisenstein above all) to 
elaborate and apply a critical theory of the cinema, a specific method of 
apprehending rigorously defined objects, in direct reference to the 
method of dialectical materialism. 

It is hardly necessary to point out that we know that the ' policy ’ of a 
magazine cannot — indeed, should not — be corrected by magic over- 
night. We have to do it patiently, month by month, being careful in our 
own field to avoid the general error of putting faith in spontaneous 
change, or attempting to rush in a ’ revolution ’ without the preparation 
to support it. To start proclaiming at this stage that the truth has been 
revealed to us would be like talking about ' miracles ’ or ' conversion ’. 
All we should do is to state what work is already in progress and pub- 
lish articles which relate to it, either explicitly or implicitly. ^ 

We should indicate briefly how the various elements in the magazine fit 
into this perspective. The essential part of the work obviously takes 
place in the theoretical articles and the criticisms. There is coming to be 
less and less of a difference between the two, because it is not our con- 
cern to add up the merits and defects of current films in the interests of 
topicality, nor, as one humorous article put it ' to crack up the product ’. 
The interviews, on the other hand, and also the ' diary ' columns and 
the list of films, with the dossiers and supplementary material for pos- 
sible discussion later, are often stronger ori information than theory. It 
is up to the reader to decide whether these pieces take up any critical 
stance, and if so, what. 

J.-L.C. and J.N. 


NOTES 

1. Others include distribution, screening and discussion of films in the provinces 
and the suburbs, sessions of theoretical work (see 'Montage’ No 210). 

2. Or tolerated, and jeopardized by this very toleration. Is there any need to 
stress that it is the tried tactic of covertly repressive systems not to harass 
the protesting fringe.^ They go out of their way to take no notice of them, 
with the double effect of making one half of the opposition careful not to 
try their patience too far and the other half complacent in the knowledge 
that their activities are unobserved. 

3. We do not intend to suggest by this that we want to erect a corporatist fence 
round our own field, and neglect the infinitely larger field where so much is 
obviously at stake politically. Simply, we are concentrating on that precise 

35 



point of the spectrum of social activity in this article, in response to precise 
operational needs. 

4. A more and more pressing problem. It would be inviting confusion to allow 
it to be tackled in bits and pieces and obviously we have to make a unified 
attempt to pose it theoretically later on. For the moment we leave it aside. 

5. Capitalist ideology. This term expresses our meaning perfectly, but as we are 
going to use it without further definition in this article, we should point out 
that we are not under any illusion that it has some kind of * abstract essence ’. 
We know that it is historically and socially determined, and that it has 
multiple forms at any given place and time, and varies from historical 
period to historical period. Like the whole category of ' militant ’ cinema, 
which is totally vague and undefined at present. We must (a) rigorously 
define the function attributed to it, its aims, its side effects (information, 
arousal, critical reflection, provocation ' which always has some effect ’...); 
(b) define the exact political line governing the making and screening of 
these films — ' revolutionary ’ is too much of a blanket term to serve any 
useful purpose here; and (c) state whether the supporters of militant cinema 
are in fact proposing a line of action in which the cinema would become the 
poor relation, in the illusion that the less the cinematic aspect is worked on, 
the greater the strength and clarity of the ' militant ’ effect will be. This 
would be a way of avoiding the contradictions of ' parallel ’ cinema and 
getting embroiled in the problem of deciding whether ' underground ’ films 
should be included in the category, on the pretext that their relationship to 
drugs and sex, their preoccupation with form, might possibly establish new 
relationships between film and audie.nce. 

7. We are not shutting our eyes to the fact that it is an oversimplification 
(employed here because operationally easier) to make such a sharp distinction 
between the two terms. This is particularly so in the case of the cinema, 
where the signified is more often than not a product of the permutations of 
the signifiers, and the sign has dominance over the meaning. 

8. This is not a magical doorway out of the system of ‘ depiction ' (which is 
particularly dominant in the cinema) but rather a rigorous, detailed, large- 
scale work on this system — what conditions make it possible, what mechan- 
isms render it innocuous. The method is to draw attention to the system, so 
that it can be seen for what it is, to make it serve one’s own ends, condemn 
itself out of its own mouth. Tactics employed may include 'turning cine- 
matic syntax upside-down ’ but it cannot be just that. Any old film nowadays 
can upset the normal chronological order in the interests of looking vaguely 
' modern ’. But The Exterminating Angel and The Diary of Anna Magdalena 
Bach (though we would not wish to set them up as a model) are rigorously 
chronological without ceasing to be subversive in the way we have been 
describing, whereas in many a film the mixed-up time sequence simply 
covers up a basically naturalistic conception. In the same way, perceptual 
confusion (avowed intent to act on the unconscious mind, changes in the 
texture of the film, etc) are not sufficient in themselves to get beyond the 
traditional way of depicting 'reality'. To realize this, one has only to re- 
member the unsuccessful attempts there have been of the ' lettriste ’ or 
or new kinds of onomatopoeia. In the one and the other case only the most 
' zacum ’ type to give back its infinity to language by using nonsense words 
superficial level of language is touched. They create a new code, which 
operates on the level of the impossible, and has to be rejected on any other, 
and is therefore not in a position to transgress the normal. 

translated by SUSAN BENNETT 


36 




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Film Journals: Britain and France 


Claire Johnston 


Since the Second World War, film magazines devoted to film criticism 
as opposed to trade journals and fan magazines have proliferated in 
many countries, but nowhere have they achieved the standards of the 
leading French magazines: Ccihiers du CinetJia, Chiethique, la Revi/e 
Internationale de Vilmologie, Etudes Cinejnatographique, Positif and 
others. It would require an extensive historical and sociological study 
before one could attempt to determine with any degree of certainty what 
factors contributed to this phenomenon. One suspects that the surrealists 
contributed enormously to the early acceptance of the cinema as an art 
form, and the involvement of film-makers like Dulac, Leenhardt, Delloc 
and Epstein in critical writing began a tradition which was continued 
in the ’ nouvelle vague ’. Other influences may have been Merleau- 
Ponty’s phenomenological studies and Sartre’s studies of the imagina- 
tion. Most of the interesting writing of the immediate post-war period 
appeared in the newly-founded magazine la Revue du Cinema edited by 
Jean-Georges Auriol and in I’Ecran Fran^ais which in 1948 was res- 
ponsible for publishing Astruc’s manifesto in which he developed the 
concept of ' la camera stylo The real breakthrough, however, can be 
located in 1951, with the birth of Cahiers du Cinhna out of la Revue, 
edited by Andre Bazin, Lo Duca and Jacques Doniol-Valcroze. The key 
figure was undoubtedly Bazin, and his involvement with the formulation 
of a systematic theory of the cinema with which to counter Eisenstein’s 
theory of montage. This is not the place to give an account of Bazin’s 
theories; nevertheless it should be said that it was his aesthetic based on 
the notion of the realistic nature of the film image and his championing 
of a kind of ' degree zero ’ in editing which was responsible for the 
burst of interest in the American cinema and especially in the Holly- 
wood genres. It was in 1955 that the younger writers, Truffaut, Rivette, 
Scherer and Domarchi began to emerge as offering a possible reformula- 


39 




tion of Bazin’s position, though adhering to his basically Catholic system 
of values. The ' Hitchcocko-Hawksiens as they came to be called, did 
not confine themselves to the American cinema exclusively; Renoir and 
Rossellini assumed enormous importance for the Cahiers critics. How- 
ever, it was their involvement with the theoretical problems thrown up 
by the American cinema which led to Truffaut’s formulation of ‘ la 
politique des auteurs which at that time was basically a polemical 
stance, involving the formation of a pantheon (some of the first direct- 
ors to be examined were Lang, Hitchcock, Hawks, Mankiewicz and 
Welles) and the developing of a critical vocabulary with terms such as 
' auteur ’ and ' mise-en-scene ’. Much of the writing, in the tradition of 
Bazin, was extremely detailed, and was backed up with extensive inter- 
views. Although Bazin profoundly disagreed with the younger critics, 
the kind of attacks made on them particularly by the popular press com- 
pelled him to come to their defence. Undoubtedly Cahiers discovery that 
it is possible to make personal films within the commercial context con- 
tributed greatly to the birth of the ' nouvelle vague ’, but it was Cahiers 
somewhat unscrupulous appropriation of the term and their restriction 
of it to their own directors which did not go unopposed. Positij was the 
only magazine to really take up the challenge of Cahier’s polemic, but 
it was the moralism of much of their writing and their arrogant re- 
definition of the ' nouvelle vague ’ to suit their own purposes as much 
as their critical methods which led Positif to take up the challenge. 
Positif argued in favour of social commitment, freedom of expression 
and the surrealist ethic. It must be stated, however, that their commit- 
ment, in general, was confined to campaigning against censorship and 
to anti-clericalism.^ 

The violence with which Positif and Cahiers attacked and counter- 
attacked each other revealed a degree of concern about critical attitudes 
and theory which could not have existed were it not for Henri Langlois 
and the Cinemath^ue Frangaise. Both factions were quick to admit that 
it was Langlois’ policy of showing as many films as possible, of organiz- 
ing extensive national retrospectives and covering the complete oeuvres 
of as many directors as possible which provided them with the oppor- 
tunity of systematizing their knowledge of the cinema. The importance 
French film critics and directors attach to the Cinemath^ue can perhaps 
best be gauged by their reaction to Langlois’ dismissal in 1968; all fac- 
tions were united for the first time in their lives. The Cahiers /Positif 
polemic in the early sixties could be said to have contributed in a large 
measure to the major advance which took place in the middle sixties. 
Both factions were forced to re-examine their assumptions and defend 
their critical preferences which resulted in a much more rigorous ap- 
proach and a more widespread interest in film theory. There was a fur- 
ther proliferation of film magazines (eg Cinhna 33-71, Premier Plan, 

40 



Presence du Cinema, Alidi-Minnit Fantastique etc) which led to the 
auteur approach being applied to directors which had been neglected by 
both Cahiers and Positif: Jacques Tourneur, Allan Dwan, Terence 
Fisher, Roger Corman, etc. However, it was left to Cahiers to bring 
about a thoroughgoing reformulation of auteur theory; with the other 
magazines it remained an approach and little more. 

Under the influence of structuralism, Cahiers in the mid-sixties went 
further than any other film magazine ever has towards establishing film 
criticism as a scientific discipline. It became necessary for Cahiers critics 
to be familiar with the writings of Barthes, Metz, Peirce, Greimas, 
Propp, Lefebvre, Althusser, Eco and others before embarking on any 
study of the cinema. At the same time, the magazine retained its popular 
format. Cahieds attempt to establish a semiology of the cinema has been 
fairly thoroughgoing; Bellour’s analysis of a ten-minute sequence of 
The Birds and Jean-Pierre Outdart’s article on colour are perhaps the 
most striking examples. Cahiers’ semantic concerns have gone beyond 
the purely thematic analyses of individual directors; they are now exam- 
ining such problems as narrative in the cinema. 

Positif is no longer in a position to carry on a meaningful dialogue with 
Cahiers; its role as a polemical adversary has been filled ‘by a fairly 
recent addition to the list of film magazines, Cinethique.^ While com- 
mitted to the formulation of a general theory of the cinema, Cinethique 
argues that Cahiers is blind to the fact that all films made within a 
capitalist system must by their very nature, convey a bourgeois ideology. 
By extension, the defence of such cultural products necessarily reveals 
the critic as a bourgeois. Cahiers, while accepting the logic of this argu- 
ment, denies that it is applicable to their magazine, and further argues 
that Cinethique fails to practise what it preaches. This most recent con- 
troversy had the merit of forcing Cahiers into the publication of a long 
and elaborate editorial in which its policy was set out in great detail in 
October 1969. On comparing Cahiers and Cinethique it becomes clear 
that their primary aim is to ' demythify ’ the myths of the bourgeoisie. 
Cinethique claims it is possible or indeed necessary to make films out- 
side the capitalist position, and any film made within that system is, by 
definition, bad. (A whole article was devoted to Citizen Kane in 
which the critic concerned claimed the film must be bad because it was 
made by RKO.) Cahiers’ position is that it is impossible to operate out- 
side the capitalist system in the West. In a bourgeois culture, they claim, 
the bourgeois ideology is all-inclusive; there is no room for the ' other ’; 
every social class has to be assimilated. Bourgeois ideology, therefore, is 
a collection of historically determined myths which are passed off as 

* Much of the growing interest in language and ideology in film was engendered 
by the Pesaro Film Festival in 1967. 


dl 



universal truth; they represent the ' naturalization of ’ culture. The task 
of the critic, therefore, is to examine and expose the film’s relationship 
towards its capitalist context. Cinethique’s simplistic view has led to a 
great deal of impoverished film criticism; nevertheless, because of its 
interest in semiology it has run a number of interesting articles, and in 
particular, an interview with Christian Metz. In addition, it continues 
to perform the vital function of continuing the tradition of polemics 
among French film magazines. 

Compared with its French counterpart, film criticism in Britain seems 
almost primitive, and attempts to alleviate the situation have been iso- 
lated and spasmodic. The only real school to have emerged in Britain 
was the ' film grammar ’ school which had far more influence in the 
field of film education than elsewhere. Its influence was not undermined 
so much by the emergence of new aesthetic principles, as was the case 
with montage theory in France, so much as by educational factors such 
as developments in the teaching of English. At present, British film 
criticism largely exists at the pre-Bazin stage. There a number of factors 
which have contributed to this situation, not least the firmly entrenched 
empiricist, anti-intellectual tradition and the way the British .Film Insti- 
tute in its acquisitions policy and through the National Film Theatre has 
inadvertently serviced this tendency. This is exemplified in the way film 
columnists are elevated to the status of critics, and film fans are regarded 
as historians. This explains why Sight and Sound, which is subsidized by 
the British Film Institute and therefore need not adhere to the demands 
of the market, chooses to do so, and sees itself as a predominantly 
journalistically motivated magazine. In this context, the critic is seen as 
someone of discrimination and taste which cannot really be contested. In 
Barthes’ words, ' the bourgeois ideology^ . . . will state a fact or per- 
ceive a value, but will refuse explanation. The order of the world will 
be self-evident or ineffable; it will never be meaningful All the critic 
is required to give is an impressionistic account of his immediate res- 
ponses on viewing a film. Subjectivity has always been a crucial part of 
the bourgeois ideology. This enables the critic to impose his own lan- 
guage on to a work without explaining or justifying the stance to the 
reader. The critic’s interpretation of an image, to take an extreme ex- 
ample, can be cited as the intention of the film-maker. Thus in a review 
the Oshima’s The Boy {Sight and Sound, Summer 1970) Philip Strick 
can assert with confidence that the symbol of the Japanese flag in the 
film ' is intended as an ironic reminder of a militant nationalism ’, If 
the work cannot be assimilated into the critic’s own experience, it is 
written off as exotic, or, if necessary, simply a ' failure ’. The extreme 
‘ otherness ' of such filrtis as Glauber Rocha’s Black God, White Devil 
can lead to the following kind of response; ' the cangaceiro also appears 
as a kind of samurai figure, in his adherence to extravagant codes as 


42 



much as in his sudden wild shrieks, flat-footed leaps and wheeling death 
fall ' {Sight and Sound, 1970, by Penelope Houston). It is for these 
reasons that it is regarded as unwise to take the cinema too seriously, 
which accounts for the obligatory columns such as Arkadin. The bour- 
geois critic sees his work as a kind of vicarious emotional experience, 
and his skill lies in tlie way he puts words together to achieve the im- 
pressionistic account he is searching for, rather than in expressing ideas. 

However, it is only in the last ten years that Sight and Sound’s approach 
has become so monolithically entrenched; and one of the more depress- 
ing aspects of our film culture is that during that time its circulation has 
risen to over 30,000, The influence of writers like Gavin Lambert and 
Lindsay Anderson from Sequence in the early and middle fifties had 
much to do with this. Their involvement with the re-discovery of the 
American cinema and their concern about critical values led to a measure 
of self-scrutiny. It was in the late fifties and early sixties with the emerg- 
ence of new magazines like Movie, Definition and Motion that film 
criticism as a whole was forced to examine its current assumptions, and 
it was in the pages of the short-lived magazine Definition that the con- 
troversy took hold. Definition took the position suggested by Lindsay 
Anderson in his article ' Stand Up ! Stand Up ! ’ in Sight and Sound in 
1956 which was that film criticism should be based on clearly defined 
social values to which the critic should be totally committed. Definition’s 
search for a normative aesthetic was not simply opposed to the empiri- 
cism and superficiality of Sight and Sound at that time. Its attacks were 
aimed with equal force at a group of writers who were later to form 
Movie, then writing in Oxford Opinion, whom they regailed as ' right- 
wing ’ in their formalist preoccupations and their interest in ' second- 
rate ' directors like Hitchcock and * fifty-third rate ’ directors like Fuller. 
The Movie writers (primarily Ian Cameron, Victor Perkins and Robin 
Wood) in their concern with developing a critical vocabulary took their 
ideas from the Cahiers writers of the middle fifties and Sarris’s inter- 
pretation of them. The main body of their pantheon consisting of Hitch- 
cock, Hawks, Preminger, Minnelli, Aldrich and Tashlin mirrored that 
of Cahiers, but their originality lay in the discovery of directors like 
Richard Brooks, Clive Donner, Richard Lester and Michael Powell. 
Their polemic for an alternative view of the British cinema in the form 
of Donner, Lester, Powell was a useful corrective to the realist/ 
documentary tradition. Movie concentrated on discussing ' mise-en- 
scene ’ rather th.an delineating the thematic structure of the auteur’s 
work. This led to an extremely detailed examination of sequences, and 
naturally led to the magazine increasingly confining itself to examina- 
tions of single films rather than the oeuvre as a whole, and extensive 
interviews were used to examine these questions in more detail. The 
stated aim of the Movie critics was to attempt to achieve an objective 

43 



description of the film through detailed scrutiny. However, their empha- 
sis on the film as a self-sufficient entity meant that Robin Wood’s Leavi- 
sian method could be easily accommodated, for once objective descrip- 
tion had been achieved, Movie critics were as enthusiastic as anyone else 
in making moral judgements about the film in question. Nevertheless 
Movie is the only magazine to have successfully introduced polemics into 
British film criticism, and its popular format meant that it reached a 
much wider audience than the usual ' small magazine ’, so that it offered 
a real alternative to the established magazines. Regrettably it is no 
longer a real force, as it appears extremely spasmodically, though it has 
been influential in spawning other magazines and through its develop- 
ment into a publishing venture. 

The Brighton Film Revietv has in many ways continued the polemical 
position of Movie, but it labours under the difficulty of having to restrict 
itself to films shown at film societies and local cinemas month by month. 
The critical policy of the magazine was never clearly delineated, though 
the reviewing of films as self-sufficient entities reflects not only exigen- 
cies under which the Revietv has to operate, but it expresses the policy of 
its editors. While much of the writing is extremely interesting and re- 
flects a serious involvement with auteur theory, because of -the need to 
publish the magazine monthly, the editors have been forced into the 
position of printing articles which suggest that the critics as a whole do 
not share a common approach to the cinema. As a result, the Revietv 
never really managed to acquire a distinct personality, which undermined 
much of its polemical intention. The general impression the magazine 
conveys is one of imitation (of Cahiers and Movie) rather than of adap- 
tation, which is most evident in the Review’s Conseil cles Cinq, a slightly 
modified version of Cahiers’ Conseil des Dix, which is quite meaningless 
in the light of the fact that many of the contributors have not seen the 
. films in question. One has to count the Brighton Film Review as perhaps 
the major casualty of British film culture; lack of resources and viewing 
facilities, together with an insufficient number of knowledgeable critics 
prevented it from reaching the wider audience it deserves. 

While eclecticism was forced on the Brighton Film Revietv, it was one 
of the expressed aims of Cinema, which in its first editorial stated its 
policy' as ' keeping in contact with contemporary movements in acting, 
directing and aesthetics ’. Its commitment to a series of structural analy- 
ses, therefore, did not constitute a polemical position as such. For this 
reason, Cinema involves itself quite extensively with the underground. 
Although contributions tend to vary the approach to the cinema, on the 
whole the concern with adhering to rigorous critical principles became 
one of its central features. Taking the auteur approach for granted, it is 
much more concerned with its reformulation in terms of structuralism; 

44 



in this sense, while the Brighton Vtlm Revieto reflects the Cahiers of the 
fifties. Cinema reflects the more recent development in Cahiers. Although 
some Cinema critics have sacrificed precision for obscurantism and mys- 
tification, one can detect a genuine desire to explore new areas of the 
cinema, such as the Italian western. In general, the assumptions under 
which Cinema appears to be operating are that Britain already possesses 
a well-developed film culture. This, of course, is far from the case; its 
eclecticism and lack of any real polemic about the cinema is unlikely to 
radically change this situation. 

The concern about the role of ideology in film criticism seems to be of 
fairly recent origin; Cahiers’ reformulation of its position and the emerg- 
ence of Cinethique in France were the spearhead of this movement. In 
Britain, two magazines emerged which set out to follow their example, 
Cinemantics and After Image. It is too early yet to assess the influence 
these magazines will have. Cinemantics seems to have abandoned any 
serious critical purpose after an extremely interesting first issue which 
contained a translation of some of a paper given by Umber and Eco at 
the Pesaro Festival in 1967. 

After Image, which grew out of a university film magazine Platinum 
has only brought out two issues so far, a special issue on politics in the 
cinema, and an issue on the underground. It may be significant that 
After Image has not, as yet, been able to formulate its critical principles, 
and their second issue contains two totally conflicting editorials cn the 
achievement on the underground. While After Image is committed to 
the growth of an ' independent cinema ’ to counter capitalism in the 
West, and believes that such a cinema is possible, it does not seem to be 
falling into the trap of over-simplification which much of the writing in 
Cinethique does, and one can only hope that its attempt to create some 
polemic within its own pages will be fruitful. 

Rather than giving an exhaustive sur^-^ey of film magazines in Britain, it 
has been the intention of this article to suggest some of the critical 
principles underlying film magazines in general. For this reason maga- 
zines like Vilms and Filming, Pocus on Film and The Monthly Film 
Bulletin have been excluded as they appear to be based on the same 
critical assumptions which inform the most influential magazine of this 
type. Sight and Sound. What distinguishes Fihns and Filming and Sight 
and Sound is a different conception of the market, rather than any criti- 
cal principles. Perhaps it should be said here that magazines like Focus 
on Film and The Monthly Film Bulletin, nevertheless, as predominantly 
informational magazines perform an extremely useful function in pro- 
viding data for the film historian. A strong argument could be put for- 
ward that The Monthly Film Bulletin should confine itself exclusively to 
this function, and extend it. 


45 



The most significant feature to emerge from this survey is that the only 
real challenge to established critical attitudes in this country has come 
from student magazines. Cine7na began at Cambridge, After Image 
(formerly Vlatignum') at Essex, Brightoti Fib?i Revieiv at Sussex; going 
further back, Defnitioits was founded by ex-students of the London 
School of Film Technique, and Movie developed out of the activities of 
a group of writers for Oxford Opinion. (In the case of Motion which 
was started in the early sixties by students from LSE and Cambridge, 
the critics were much less concerned with challenging current critical 
assumptions than were the other magazines; its contribution lay in start- 
ing a series of largely informational monographs which was to develop 
into the publishing enterprise, the Tantivy Press.) 

As compared with the situation in France there has been a marked resist- 
ance to any challenge to empiricism in the established journals; auteur 
criticism has been consistently misrepresented and trivialized, and the 
problems posed by the ' independent cinema ’ have never been con- 
sidered seriously. For this reason, market factors have played a large 
part in undermining the impetus of this movement. The publications in 
question, even Movie, by far the most successful, audacious and pro- 
fessionally produced magazine, were all sporadically produced and com- 
paratively short-lived. Their influence outside a narrow circle* is neglig- 
ible. The paperback market has proved less economically formidable and 
the critical criteria less entrenched; it is significant that the greatest in- 
roads made by auteur criticism have been made in the paperback market, 
in the Movie and Cinema One series. Quite clearly if any vital film 
culture is to finally emerge in this country there has got to be a consoli- 
dation of these new approaches in a proliferation of regular film maga- 
zines. The importance for these magazines to publish a detailed account 
of the critical principles which inform their writing cannot be empha- 
sized enough, with the regular reassessment and reformulation of their 
position as they progress. The example of Cahiers dii Cinema in this 
respect is instructive, and it is only in this kind of critical climate that 
genuine polemical criticism can emerge. 

REFERENCES 

1. See Peter Graham, ed. The New Wave, Cinema One Series, 1968. 

2. See Roland Barthes’ Aiythologies, Editions du Seuil, 1957. 


46 



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Book Reviews 


Structuralism in Film Criticism* 

Ben Brewster 


In the last few years, the idea of structuralism has attracted much atten- 
tion in this country. The point of reference has not been American or 
Prague Structuralist Linguistics, but the emergence of a new generation 
of anthropologists, philosophers, semiologists and critics in France, a 
tendency dating back nearly to the war, but first achieving prominence 
as a tendenc)' with universal ambitions after the publication of Levi- 
Strauss’s Jut Peitsee Saiivage in 1962. This universality extends to the 
cinema, and therefore dneastes and cinephiles in this country, too, are 
concerned as to what consequences a ' structuralist ’ approach might have 
for the medium. But this interest has been slow to produce fruit, partly 
because of an irrational notion that the French writers are enormously 
obscure and difficult, partly because of the diversity of approaches which 
all seem to be included under the rubric * structuralism 

In the autumn of 1966, the John Hopkins Humanities Centre at Balti- 
more, Maryland, USA, organized an international seminar to discuss 
recent developments in the human sciences and criticism which was 
attended by scholars from many countries, but dominated by a dozen 
French writers, notably Georges Poulet, Lucien Goldmann, Tzvetan 
Todorov, Roland Barthes, Jean Hyppolite, Jacques Lacan, Guy Rosolato, 
Jacques Derrida, Jean-Pierre Vernant and Nicolas Ruwet. Thus, although 
Levi-Strauss himself and Michel Foucault were absent, most of the 
prominent writers generally known as ' structuralists ’ (though many of 
them would reject the appellation) were present, and a number of their 
most prominent opponents, enough at any rate to suggest that the pro- 
ceedings of the conference would be a good source for guidance in 
understanding ‘ structuralism ’ and its wider applications, including its 
application to the cinema (although the latter was only once mentioned 
in the recorded proceedings). These proceedings have now appeared 

The lutnguages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man: the Structuralist 
Controversy. Edited by Richard Macksey and Eugenio Donato (The 
John Hopkins Press, Baltimore and London, 95s) 


'49 




under the title The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Alan: 
The Structuralist Controversy, edited by Richard Alacksey and Eugenio 
Donato. It contains fourteen papers and edited and translated transcripts 
of eleven discussions following papers. A variety of visiting scholars and 
students and faculty at John Hopkins took part in these discussions, 
which thus represent an even wider range of viewpoints. Colloquia, of 
course, suffer from certain inherent limitations — academicism, oral in- 
coherence, mutual misunderstandings and, in this case, language diffi- 
culties. Nevertheless, a fairly clear picture does emerge. I shall try to 
delimit this picture in my review, and then to explore its implications 
for the cinema and film criticism. 

Firstly, a clear opposition emerged among the major colloquists. On the 
one side were Donato, Todorov, Barthes, Lacan, Rosolato and Derrida, 
on the other Goldmann, supported by some visiting phenomenologists, 
notably Paul de Man. Poulet, Vernant and Ruwet occupied somewhat 
oblique positions with respect to this opposition, while Hyppolite 
adopted the role of a kind of elder statesman. Curiously enough, this 
dispute did not concern primarily the concept of structure — all partici- 
pants agreed as to its definition (a whole greater than the sum of its 
parts) and its importance in the human sciences. Rather, as, Peter Caws 
remarked after the last paper, ' we have found that what has become 
primary in nearly all the discussions has been a metaphysical rather than 
a methodological question, principally the metaphysical question of the 
subject which has been considered to be a product of language, posterior 
to language ’ (p 314). This last position was that of the structuralists. It 
was opposed by Goldmann, who, with his characteristic combination of 
Piaget’s genetic epistemology and Lukacs’s historicist Marxism, regarded 
the subject as an instance unifying the world into significant wholes 
(' significant structures ’), either individual or social, relating to practical 
activity — where man is concerned, to labour and the making of history. 
The subject of all human activity, whether individual or social, is there- 
fore historically and socially relative. The task of the literary (or other) 
critic is to isolate the socially determined ‘ significant structure ’ within 
which the author in question creates (eg with Racine, Jansenism) and 
its socio-historical location (the noblesse de robe in seventeenth-century 
France). For Barthes and Todorov, on the contrary, language and writing 
as activities precede every subject constitution, and the subject is an 
entirely secondary phenomenon, constituted by the language of the work 
and ambiguous and variable within it. For Lacan, the subject, far from 
being a stable, creative centre of a meaningful world, is always absent, 
always elsewhere, and constantly leaks away from its own self-apprehen- 
sion and from the outside, observer’s grasp. As he is quoted, ' I think 
where I am not, hence I am where I think not ’ (p 95). For Derrida, the 
metaphysical concept of the subject is the centre of a structure, and 

50 



structure, centre and subject always represent attempts to rediscover the 
original, natural reality behind the historically derived concepts; this 
process is both inevitable for all thought, and impossible. Hence the 
task of philosophy is the difficult one of thinking this centre as both 
present and absent, and the structure both as a structure and as a ‘ free 
play 

Thus a large part of the book invokes a difficult philosophical question 
which is posed and answered in difficult ways, with a wide range of 
reference to the history of philosophy and the sciences, particularly to 
Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud and Heidegger. This question is of great inter- 
est, but it takes us a long way from the problem of the cinema. To get 
back to this problem, I shall leave the philosophical question for a closer 
examination of the ' structuralist ' contributions to criticism strictly 
speaking, in particular those of Barthes and Todorov. 

In the discussion after their two papers, there was a significant clash 
between Barthes and the American critic Paul de Man. In his paper, 
Barthes had claimed the emergence of a new approach to literature, or 
rather the renewal of an old rhetorical approach which had disappeared 
in the last century and a half. This approach concentrated on literature 
as a linguistic phenomenon, and on its procedures as dependent on a 
number of features of language. ' It seems to me that these facts of 
language were not readily perceptible so long as literature pretended to 
be a transparent expression of either objective calendar time or of psy- 
chological subjectivity, that is to say, as long as literature maintained a 
totalitarian ideology of the referent, or more commonly speaking, as 
long as literature was realistic ’ (p 138). Paul de Man commented: ' I 
find that you have an optimistic historical myth . . . which is linked to 
the abandonment of the last active form of traditional philosophy that 
we know, phenomenology, and the replacement of phenomenology by 
psycho-analysis, etc. That represents historical progress and extremely 
optimistic possibilities for the history of thought. However you must 
show us that the results you have obtained in the stylistic analyses that 
you make are superior to those of your predecessors thanks to this opti- 
mistic change which is linked to a certain historical renewal. . . . But 
. . . when I hear you refer to facts of literary history, you say things 
that are false within a typically French myth. . . . When . . . you 
speak of writing since Mallarme and of the new novel, etc, and you 
oppose them to what happens in the romantic novel or story or auto- 
biography — you are simply wrong. . . . You distort history because 
you need a historical myth of progress to justify a method which is not 
yet able to justify itself by its results.’ 

Barthes : ’ It is difficult to reply because you question my own relation- 
ship to what I say. But I will say, very recklessly and risking redoubled 


51 



blows on your part, that I never succeed in defining literary history in- 
dependently of what time has added to it. In other words, I always give 
it a mythical dimension. For me, Romanticism includes everything that 
has been said about Romanticism. Consequently, the historical past acts 
as a sort of psycho-analysis. For me the historical past is a sort of gluey 
matter for which I feel an inauthentic shame and from which. I try to 
detach myself by living my present as a sort of combat or violence 
against this mythical time immediately behind me. When I see some- 
thing that might have happened fifty years ago, for me it already has a 
mythical dimension. However, in telling you this, I am not excusing 
anything; I am simply explaining and that does not suffice ’ (pp 150-151). 

The* position adopted by Barthes and opposed by de Man is one familiar 
to anyone interested in cinema criticism. It is a politique, an aesthetic 
policy, like the politique des auteurs} In a politique the critical tasks of 
the present are defined by constructing a history of the art which selects 
favourite artists or artistic tendencies of the past, and thereby formulates 
a programme for the artistic creation of the future. It is therefore the 
ideology of a tendency in aesthetic production rather than a scientific 
aesthetic, defining the latter as a theory of the production of aesthetic 
effects.^ Barthes distinguishes in the past between a rhetorical and a 
realist tradition in the interests of a literature exemplified by the work of 
Sollers, which is inextricably bound up with the linguistic and gram- 
matalogical nature of the literary medium. The critics of the original 
Cahiers du Cinhna similarly distinguished between the current French 
cinema and a certain number of great cinematic authors, directors who 
had imposed a recognizable personal character on their films; most of 
these critics later became film-makers, attempting to be authors them- 
selves to their own prescriptions. And the accusation against Barthes 
made by de Man is the same as the one frequently directed at those 
critics who propose a politique des auteurs — that it is an irrational 
cultism justified by a mythical history of the art. Barthes’s answer is 
significant here : an art includes everything that has been written about 
it — ie criticism is part of the work. Hence mythology is unavoidable, 
and the critic is a future writer. As he puts it elsewhere, ' the meaning of 
a work (or of a text) cannot constitute itself by itself; the author only 
ever produces presumptions of meaning, forms, if you like, and it is the 
world that fills them. . . . The novel is always the critic’s horizon: 
the critic is the one who is going to write ’ (Essais Critiques, Paris 1964, 
pp 9 and 18). But this continuity between artistic work, criticism and 
artistic production presupposes another continuity, a continuity of med- 
ium. Because the author uses the same means of communication, the 
same tenses, persons, pronouns as the critic, there is a constant inter- 
penetration and inter-play between the two activities. Barthes’s politique 
is not a politique des auteurs, but a politique de la litterarite. This con- 


52 



tinuity of language is absent from the cinema critic’s field. Hence the 
etiolation of the concept of the cinematic d/z/e///-, which easily degener- 
ates into a Vf^eltanschauung or a merely forceful personal style, a ten- 
dency vulnerable to the pure cultism and hero-worship of the Mac- 
Mahonites. There is no theory of cinematicity corresponding to Barthes’s 
theory of literariness to unite the politique, because there is no continuity 
of medium between the criticism and its object. 

This distinction might be overcome if it could be shown that the cinema 
is a coded art like a language and hence that the continuity of criticism 
and production is present, with a mere translation between the two, like 
criticism in a different language than the original. Many people have 
attempted to use the acquisitions of modern linguistics to develop a 
semiology of film, most notably Christian Afetz, Umberto Eco, Pier 
Paolo Pasolini and Peter Wollen.* However, all these writers advise 
caution in the application of concepts adapted to verbal language to the 
cinematic sign. Are the properties of verbal language which concern 
Barthes and Todorov found in the cinema? 

Considering the wide range of reference of the philosophical discussions 
in this book it is perhaps surprising that the articles by Todorov and 
Barthes are based on a few short articles by Emile Benveniste — ' Les 
relations du temps dans le verbe frangais ’, ' La nature des* pronoms ’ 
(included in his Vrohlemes de linguistique generale, Paris 1966) * — 
and Roman Jakobson’s famous Shifters, Verbal Categories and the 
Russian Verb (Cambridge, Mass, 1967).® All these articles are concerned 
with the problems of indexes or indexical signs : in particular with pro- 
nouns and the tenses of verbs. It has long been known that the first and 
second personal pronouns are meaningless except as indexes of a real 
person, the speaker or the person addressed. Benveniste and Jakobson 
stress that they are both indexes and symbols, what Jakobson calls 
' shifters because they shift between message and code. Only a French 
speaker knows that ' je ’ is the (arbitrary) word for the index first person 
subject. What characterizes a shifter is not primarily the fact that it 
refers to someone outside the speech act, but that it is an element of the 
code or langue which can only be understood in relation to the message 
or parole. As Benveniste puts it, ’ ” i ” is the individual who is uttering 
the present instance of speech containing the linguistic instance ” i ” ’ 
{Problemes . . ., p 252). Adverbs like 'here’, 'now', 'yesterday’, 
' today ’, are also symbol-indexes and shifters, for the same reason (they 
can only be understood in relation to the speech-act in which they occur). 
So, finally, and in the same way, are the tenses of verbs. These symbol- 
indexes are essential to all linguistic utterance. It is their properties, in 
particular their ambiguities, which make possible the literature which 
Barthes and Todorov are advocating. But are they found in the cinema? 
Is there anything cinematic corresponding to pronouns or tenses? 


53 



It has been suggested that the cinema is the indexical medium par 
excellence. As the index is defined by Peirce (and following him, by 
Jakobson) as existentially linked to the object it represents, a photograph 
would seem a clear case of an index. For Peirce, the photograph is a 
' quasi-predicate ’ composed by light as a ' quasi-subject as Macksey 
remarks (p 155). But if we insist on describing the photograph and 
hence the photographic film as a quasi-index, we should take the ' quasi ’ 
seriously. The term index comes from the act of pointing with the 
finger. This gesture is, in fact, a symbol-index. However existential its 
relation to its object, it is ultimately conventional (it would be possible 
to reverse the convention so that the object indicated was in fact in the 
direction of the wrist rather than that of the end of the finger). It is this 
arbitrariness which makes language discussable as a human activity in- 
dependently of its objects, and it is this which makes a literature of 
literariness possible, and hence a structuralist criticism. The pointed 
finger has this property, the photograph does not. As Metz has it, the 
cinema is not doubly articulated. Hence it would seem to be preferable 
to stop talking about the photograph in terms of linguistic signs at all, 
and say, as Afetz does, that the photograph is in a relation of analogy to 
the real object it represents, in the form of a more or less complete 
illusion. 

If we can ignore the ' quasi-indexical ’ character of the photographic 
image, are there real symbol-indexes in the cinema, like pronouns or 
tenses? At first sight it would seem that the subject looking at the film 
through the window of the screen was a permanent first person, like a 
first person narration in a novel. But such a first person also takes part 
in the story, however marginally, whereas the viewing subject of a film 
is completely non-participatory — he is not addressed unless the narrative 
is suspended for satirical purposes. Cinematic narrative is far closer to 
an impersonal * third ’ person (as in ' it is raining ', etc) than to a first 
person. Similarly, the cinema might seem to be in a permanent present 
tense (flash-backs are clearly not analogous to a past tense, their past 
tense being indicated syntagmatically at their introduction into the film 
rather than by any change in the signs indicating the actions within the 
flash-back). But when narrative films are introduced by a written or 
spoken preface, this is nearly always in the past tense (in Dreyer’s 
Gertrud, a character’s thoughts are described in his voice In the past 
tense, while his face reflects the emotions thus described, and the device, 
though unusual, certainly does not seem ungrammatical). The film is 
indifferent to tense, as it was to person. 

Hence film seems to have^no relation to the index-symbols of verbal 
language, and thus the kind of developments in literature and in literary 
criticism described as structuralist seem completely irrelevant to it. But 

54 



that leaves one paradox : the fiction film as it has developed until now 
has drawn on and developed a literary tradition, that of the story or 
novel. If cinematic narration has nothing to do with verbal language, 
how has this transfer , of material been possible? Why did film not 
develop its own unique content? Here a second idea of Benveniste’s dis- 
cussed by Todorov and Barthes is of interest. As is well known, rnodern 
French has a tense, the aorist (eg ' il fit ’, ‘ he did ’), which only occurs 
in writing, never in speech. It might seem that the aorist is a form of 
speech undergoing erosion, still present in the more formal written 
language, already gone from the more fluid spoken language. Benveniste 
shows, however, that the difference is a synchronic one, not a diachronic 
one. The aorist in written language shows no signs of disappearing; it is 
still used even in translations from the English, which has no such tense 
distinction. The difference reflects a b.asic difference between two types 
of utterance which he calls discours and histoire. The former is charac- 
teristic of conversation and implicates the speaker and the person spoken 
to. The latter is characteristic of the writing of history or telling a story, 
and has no connection with the speaker. The former is characterized by 
the occurrence fairly frequently of all three persons and of the use of all 
tenses save the aorist. The latter is characterized by the use of the third 
person alone, in most cases, and the use of aorist, imperfect, plu-perfect 
and 'prospective’ ('he was to have done’) tenses alone. In fact, the 
time indicated by the language of histoire is not one behind the narrator, 
but one indifferent to him — science fiction is written in the aorist tense. 
Similarly, the third person is not a person like the first and second and 
defined in relation to them, it is a non-person, an impersonal, while the 
third-person pronoun is merely an abbreviation for a noun or proper 
name. Hence the language of histoire is characterized by the indifference 
to the narrator of its use of tenses, persons and pronouns. In the writing 
of modern fiction, this distinction is not so easy to apply, as Todorov 
shows, using an example from Proust (pp 130-131). The narrator can 
shift rapidly, often in mid-sentence, between the two registers and in- 
termingle them, changing verbal forms frequently and using pronouns 
to imply complex degrees of identification with the events narrated. 
This development is what gives rise to the structuralist literature Barthes 
and Todorov are interested in and, in effect, advocate. But the opposition 
does show how film, without tenses, persons or pronouns, can handle 
the narrative structure of classical realistic fiction. The tenses of histoire 
and its basic person and pronoun, the so-called ' third person ', are 
characterized precisely by their indifference, their absence of any mark 
of tense or person. They are atemporal and impersonal. Hence they can 
easily be accommodated in film, which is atemporal and impersonal for 
other reasons.® - 

Thus it is quite logical for Barthes to say : 'I find it difficult to be 



intellectually interested in the cinema, for example. Precisely because the 
cinema is an art that was born during a period dominated by an aesthetic 
and a general ideology of the naturalistic type. The cinema has still not 
made the experiment of a coded art. It is simply the problem of an entire 
code, of an entirely "constituted” code’ (p 154). A ‘structuralist’ 
cinema and a ' structuralist ’ criticism of the cinema like that of Barthes 
and Todorov is impossible. 

However, this does not mean that the cinema critic must throw in the 
sponge and give up the investigation of the problem of cinematic lan- 
guage. At least three fruitful avenues of research have been opened up 
by the authors I mentioned above, though perhaps it would be wiser to 
refer to the results as a rhetoric rather than a semiology of the cinema. 

1. 'The structural analysis of narrativity itself, ie of the story^ con- 
sidered independently of the vehicles which carry it — films, books, etc ’ 
(Metz, op cit, p 144). Examples of this are Todorov’s Grammaire du 
Decameron (Mouton, Paris 1969) for a semantic analysis of the plots of 
the stories in Boccaccio’s Decameron, along the lines of Propp’s 
Morphology of the Folk-tale (University of Texas, 1968); and Claude 
Bremond’s more detailed studies of narrative techniques in the magazine 
Communications. 

2. What the ancient rhetoricians referred to as dispositio, the arrange- 
ment of the structures of narrativity in the film itself. This is Metz’s 
grande syntagmatique du film. It depends on 1. because, as Metz re- 
marks, ’ the cinema, which might have had many uses, is in fact usually 
used to tell stories, to the extent that even theoretically non-narrative 
films (documentaries, educational shorts, etc) essentially conform to the 
same semiological mechanisms as the " main film ” ’ (op cit, p 144). 
Hence ' it is difficult to decide if the broad syntagmatics of the film con- 
cerns the cinema or rather the cinematographical story. For ail the units 
we have discussed can be registered in the film but ivith respect to the 
plot ’ (p 145). 

3. The problem of what Metz calls ' connotation ’ and Peter Wollen 
the ' iconic sign ’. For Metz, connotation is opposed to denotation, the 
direct analogy between the image on the film and the object of which it 
is a photograph. Every other significance the image has is a connotation. 
' Connotation in the cinema is always symbolic in nature : the signified 
motivates the signifier but goes beyond it’ (p 113).^ Symbols in films 
are of two kinds ; those that attach to the object photographed because 
of its associational significance in some non-cinematic code known to the 
film-maker and his audience (what Pasolini calls the ^ im-segno ^), and 
those that are produced syntagmatlcally in the film itself. A cross as a 
sign of Christianity is an example of the first, a tune whistled by a 

56 



character which recurs later in the same film to indicate him is an ex- 
ample of the second. Peter Wollen’s more general use of ' icon ’ refers 
to the general character of visual signs that they are in some sense ' like ’ 
what they signify. Both terms are limited, it seems to me, in that they 
narrow down the connection between sign and signified to one of 
metonymy alone. I would envisage rather a theory of visual signs con- 
taining all possible rhetorical links — metonymy, of course, but also 
metaphor, opposition, hyperbole, even paranomoasia, etc etc. This im- 
mediately raises the problem of the ambiguity of the visual sign, and 
hence the constant need for interpretation in order to understand it. To 
understand a visual sign, ie to know its signified, the signifier alone is 
insufficient : it is also necessary to have some indication of what connec- 
tion there is between signifier and signified. Such connections, unlike 
that of signifier and signified in verbal language, are subject to historical 
change, as Foucault shows in his book Les Afots et les Choses (English 
translation The Order of Things, Tavistock, London 1970). Finally, in- 
terpretation involves the reference of the signs to an ideology to which 
they belong, which need not be shared or believed by the film-maker 
and his audience, but must be comprehensible to them.® 

Linguistics can thus contribute much to the study of the cinema, but 
only in so far as the great differences between cinematic rhetoric and 
verbal language are constantly borne in mind. The stmcturalism that 
Barthes and Todorov propose for literature passes the cinema by, both 
for film-makers and for film critics; but as they watch it speed past, they 
can learn from it in order to advance more quickly and surely in their 
own, different, path. 


REFERENCES 

1. Sarris’s translation ' auteur theory ’ is incorrect. In the second chapter of his 
Signs and AUaning in the Cinema, Peter Wollen outlines a real auteur 
' theory ’ • — he uses the concept of an author to break with the empirical 
appreciation of films and to construct a scientific theory of them. But this is 
a different project than that of the Cahiers critics. 

2. In Pour tine theorie de la production litteraire (Paris 1966), Pierre Macherey 
uses this as a stick with which to beat Barthes, quoting Plato’s Ion, where 
Socrates persuades Ion that anyone w’ho is a good judge of one painter’s 
work must be a good judge of another’s. But when asked by Socrates if it 
was possible for a man who understood the work of Polygnotus to be unable 
to appreciate other painters, instead of answering ' No, by Zeus, certainly 
not! Ion could easily have answ'ered 'Yes! ’. We all know people who are 
illuminating when they talk about Ford, Hawks and Walsh, but have a blind 
spot when it comes to Dwah. The relations between ideological criticisms and 
scientific criticisms is more complex than Macherey will allow. 

3. See Christian Metz: Essais sur la signification ati cinema. Editions Klinck- 

57 



sieck, Paris 1968; Umberto Eco : Appttnli per una semtologia delle com- 
municaztoni visive, Bompiani, Milan 1967; Pier Paolo Pasolini: *Il cinema di 
poesia ’ in the film-script of Uccellacci e uccelUm, Garzanti, Milan 1966; and 
Peter Wollen : Signs and Meaning in the Cinema, Seeker and Warburg and 
BFI, Cinema One Series No 9, London 1969. 

4. Perhaps I should add : ' Actif et moyen dans le verbe.’ It is this article that 
provides the title and theme of Barthes’s paper : ' To Write : Intransitive 
Verb? He argues not only that the verb ’ to write ’ has become an intransi- 
tive active verb (' What does he do? ’ * He w'rltes *), but that it is possibly 
evolving into a rniddle voice verb. It is well known that the most primitive 
opposition within the voices of Indo-European verbs is that between active 
voice and middle voice, while passive voice is a later derivation of the latter. 
Benveniste argues that the semantic equivalent of the grammatical opposition 
between active and middle voice is ‘ external diathesis ’ (the subject is out- 
side the process initiated) and 'internal diathesis’ (the subject is part of the 
process he initiates). The middle voice is almost entirely absent from modern 
English, but it is familiar in Latin deponents, and in French verbs which take 
etre rather than avoir as an auxiliary in the perfect. Hence Barthes foresees 
a time when it will be possible to say ' je suis ecrit ’ rather than, as at pres- 
ent, ' fai ecrit Writing is no longer an external activity of the subject, but 
rather a process always implicating and including him (like being born and 
dying, verbs which are typically in the middle voice). 

5. le the references are to European structural linguistics. Ruwet, on the other 
hand, is a transformationalist. However, his paper, most of which is devoted 
to an analysis of Baudelaire’s sonnet La Geante, is very similar* to the famous 
analysis of Les Chats by Levi-Strauss and Jakobson, and Jakobson’s more 
recent study of Th’ Expense of Spirit (Humanities Press, 1970). As Ruwet 
himself remarks, it is very difficult to apply transformational grammar to 
poetics, since (among other things) 'poetry is presently characterized by the 
violation of certain rules which are normally obligatory’ (p 304). Jakobson, 
of course, began his career as the zaum (trans-sense) poet Alyagrov, and 
hence knows all about this aspect of poetry, and his own linguistics and 
poetics is precisely oriented towards the possibility of analysing it. 

6. Another form of the same argument would compare the cinematic utterance 
with the use of direct speech in the novel. Once again, tense and pronoun are 
indifferent to the tense and pronoun used in the surrounding indirect narra- 
tive. These tw'o very different analogies are both applicable precisely because 
this is an argument by analogy. The cinema is not direct speech or the aorist 
tense — it shares their characteristics of indifference to the act of utterance 
and hence is sufficiently like the'm to facilitate the transition from an aorist- 
dominated literature frequently using direct speech to a cinematic fiction. In 
fact, realist and naturalist literature sought to be cinematic ante diem, much 
as early nineteenth century illusionist painting provoked the invention of the 
photograph. Daguerre was the owner of a painted panorama. 

7. NB this use of ' symbol ’ and ' symbolic ’ should not be confused with 
Peirce’s use of ' symbol ’ for an arbitrary sign. 

8. All these problems of interpretation arise for verbal language too, but with 
respect to the relation between signified and referent rather than the relation 
between signifier and signified. That is why I have preferred to call this 
approach to the cinema a rhetoric rather than semiology. The classical liter- 
ary rhetoric is a study of the relation between the sign and the referent. The 
sign (signifier-cum-signified) * pig ’ may refer to a domestic animal or a 
policeman. Which of the two it is, is a matter of rhetoric. 


58 



Reviews... 

Horror in the Cinema, and The Cinema of Roman Polanski, Ivan 
Butler (A. Zweinmer Ltd [A. S. Barnes, NY] 15s) 

At the beginning of Horror in the Cinema Ivan Butler, having told us 
that the book * is not intended solely as a study of what is sometimes 
loosely described as the V Horror Film ”, but rather as a consideration 
of the use of horror ... in the cinema as a whole ’ goes on to classify 
the use of horror as follows : 

(a) films in which horror is the be-all and (often alas) the end-all; 

(b) films in which horror is an essential ingredient but not the only or 
chief one; 

(c) films which contain certain moments or sequences of horror; 

(d) films which set out to study naturalistic subjects or situations where 
horror is inherent; 

(e) in a slightly different class, documentaries or newsreels of actual 
events horrible in themselves. 

This totally arid classification (which, incidentally, once made is for- 
gotten by the author) exemplifies the source of one’s dismay with Ivan 
Butler’s ' critical ’ stance. For him horror (and indeed every other con- 
vention or style in the cinema) is simply a technique independent of the 
way an artist might look at the world or respond to the society he finds 
himself in. Such a stance Inevitably leads Butler to consider as a central 
critical question whether a particular sequence is or is not * atmospheric ’ 
rather than pursue questions which are (arguably) critically more im- 
portant such as defining the themes and iconography of the horror film 
or working out why the figure of the decadent European aristocrat 
(socially as well as sexually predatory) should recur so markedly in the 
genre from Dracula to the Corman-Poe cycle. With such a narrow pers- 
pective and with so much ground to cover (twelve chapters in one 
hundred and thirty pages plus a fifty-five page annotated chronology of 
films) it is hardly surprising that Mr Butler has produced a collection of 
plot summaries and critical * pass *or fail’s ’ which will be useful only 
for checking dates. 

The Cinema of Roman Polanski has pretensions to greater weight and, to 
be fair, it is clear that Butler has viewed Polanski’s work industriously 
and read some at least of the critical writing on him. But, once more, it 
is Butler’s critical stance, in which the cinema is seen as a technique 
which the director might, more or less arbitrarily, deploy, which is in 
doubt. The question of why a book on Polanski rather than any other 
director is not one which Butler raises, nor does he offer a general 
framework of thematic and stylistic features which will help us under- 
stand the director’s work. There are, it is true, several perfunctory refer- 


59 



ences to surrealism but these suggest that Polanski’s surrealist images 
are arbitrary bits of technique used to evoke a particular mood rather 
than concretizations of his view of the world. (For two essays which 
offer some sort of framework for understanding Polanski’s work see 
Tom Nairn’s Roffian Polanski (Cinema No 3) and Len Masterman’s 
Cul de Sac: Through the AUrror of Surrealism (Screen, Vol II,' No 6.) 
Butler’s way of organizing his book is to open with a short biographical/ 
anecdotal chapter on Polanski and then take the films in chronological 
order as individual units (with the occasional cross-reference from one 
to the other). Each of the chapters on a feature film opens with a pon- 
derous synopsis and more than two pages of the chapter on Repulsion 
are devoted to a quite superfluous tabulation of the steps in Carol’s 
breakdown. There is, too, a kind of literalness in response to film 
images which makes the book heavy going. Thus, Mr Butler on Knife 
in the Water ; 

* the film opens as it closes, on a long, grey, featureless road, a comment on 
the long, grey featureless lives of the couple travelling down it. They are 
carried along in the enclosed airlessness of their ' rather good car ’ as in their 
enclosed, airless marital relationship. 

It is difficult to know whether this implies a defect of sensibility, taste or 
critical method on the part of the writer. 'We might go to The Cinema 
of Roman Polanski for information but certainly not for critical stimula- 
tion. 

Colin McArthur 


Books received 

Art in A\ovement: New directions in animation, John Halas and Roger 
Manvel (Studio Vista, 5gns) 

The American Aiusical, Tom Vallance (A. 2wemmer/A. S. Barnes, 
21s/$3.50) 

fean Cocteau, Rene Gilson, 

Sergei Eisenstein, Leon Moussinac, and 

Frederico Fellini, Gilbert Salachas (Crown Publishers, NY, $2.95) 
Film: the Creative Eye, David A. Sohn (Geo A. Pflaum, Dayton, Ohio) 
French Film, Roy Armes (Studio Vista, 15s/$2.25) 

The Gangster Film, Felix Bucher (Screen Series A. Zwemmer/A. S. 
Barnes, 25s) 

Germany: An illustrated guide and index, Felix Bucher (Screen Series, 
A, Zwemmer/A. S. Barnes, 25s) 

International Film Guide, 1971 ed., Peter Cowie (Tantivy/A. S. Barnes, 
15s/$3.95) 

Le four se leve (Classic Film Scripts, Lorrimer, 15s) 

60 




ences to surrealism but these suggest that Polanski’s surrealist images 
are arbitrary bits of technique used to evoke a particular mood rather 
than concretizations of his view of the world. (For two essays which 
offer some sort of framework for understanding Polanski’s work see 
Tom Nairn’s Roffian Polanski (Cinema No 3) and Len Masterman’s 
Cul de Sac: Through the AUrror of Surrealism (Screen, Vol II,' No 6.) 
Butler’s way of organizing his book is to open with a short biographical/ 
anecdotal chapter on Polanski and then take the films in chronological 
order as individual units (with the occasional cross-reference from one 
to the other). Each of the chapters on a feature film opens with a pon- 
derous synopsis and more than two pages of the chapter on Repulsion 
are devoted to a quite superfluous tabulation of the steps in Carol’s 
breakdown. There is, too, a kind of literalness in response to film 
images which makes the book heavy going. Thus, Mr Butler on Knife 
in the Water ; 

* the film opens as it closes, on a long, grey, featureless road, a comment on 
the long, grey featureless lives of the couple travelling down it. They are 
carried along in the enclosed airlessness of their ' rather good car ’ as in their 
enclosed, airless marital relationship. 

It is difficult to know whether this implies a defect of sensibility, taste or 
critical method on the part of the writer. 'We might go to The Cinema 
of Roman Polanski for information but certainly not for critical stimula- 
tion. 

Colin McArthur 


Books received 

Art in A\ovement: New directions in animation, John Halas and Roger 
Manvel (Studio Vista, 5gns) 

The American Aiusical, Tom Vallance (A. 2wemmer/A. S. Barnes, 
21s/$3.50) 

fean Cocteau, Rene Gilson, 

Sergei Eisenstein, Leon Moussinac, and 

Frederico Fellini, Gilbert Salachas (Crown Publishers, NY, $2.95) 
Film: the Creative Eye, David A. Sohn (Geo A. Pflaum, Dayton, Ohio) 
French Film, Roy Armes (Studio Vista, 15s/$2.25) 

The Gangster Film, Felix Bucher (Screen Series A. Zwemmer/A. S. 
Barnes, 25s) 

Germany: An illustrated guide and index, Felix Bucher (Screen Series, 
A, Zwemmer/A. S. Barnes, 25s) 

International Film Guide, 1971 ed., Peter Cowie (Tantivy/A. S. Barnes, 
15s/$3.95) 

Le four se leve (Classic Film Scripts, Lorrimer, 15s) 

60 




TV Studies 

An Introduction to a Critique 
of Television 


Ashley Pringle 


The enormous impact of television on the national culture has occasioned 
a wide-ranging debate whose subject matter, conduct and conclusions 
has become as predictable as those engaged in the debate at its most 
public are stereotyped and select. There is a suggestion that this debate 
has been originated in order to ' deal with ’ the subject as if it were a 
particularly troublesome delinquent, whose disposal was being decided 
by a group of magisterial veterans, earnestly frowning over the problem 
with an air of studied, laborious, and, at a distance, rather comic con- 
cern. 

It would, of course, be absurd to suggest that something whose use 
is as widespread as that of television might have been ignored and 
simply left to develop in a quite arbitrary fashion, but the concentration 
of critical attention on the role of the medium makes it all the more 
astonishing that no unique methodology suited to study of the complexi- 
ties of television and its relations to the public at any given time has been 
developed, and that those studies which are available tend to be drawn 
from quite separate critical traditions, whose groundwork and aesthetic 
theory was completed and empirically exemplified with regard to other, 
older forms, and only applied to television by virtue of the orientation 
of the critic (indeed, many of these critics turned with reluctance and 
apprehension to television). When Marshall McLuhan in Understanding 
Media turned attention to those ways in which television might be re- 
garded as demanding a kind of attention it was not receiving, his tactical 
overstatement of his case caused ’ the more lineal and literal-minded of 
the literary brahmins ’ to react with a mixture of defensive hostility and 
perplexity. As the first writer to present a detailed statement of the new 
aesthetic, McLuhan was himself very much on the offensive : 

They prefer not to participate in the creative process. They have accommo- 
dated themselves to the complete packages, in prose and verse and in the 
plastic arts. It is these people who must confront in every classroom in the 

^3 



land students who have accommodated themselves to the tactile and non- 
pictorial modes of symbolist and mythic structures, thanks to the TV image. 

Of course, the influence of the representatives of literary or higher 
culture upon attitudes to television is well-known, and characteristically 
formed an important mainspring of the mass society debate. This will be 
discussed in more detail later, but an important extension of this thesis 
was the notion of ' privatization in which public discussion, older 
forms of leisure and the characteristically communal quality of working- 
class life were being replaced by an inward-looking, domestic-oriented 
culture dominated by television viewing. While some development of 
this kind is implicit in the actual act of watching television, the extent 
to which this has pervaded the whole culture requires examination, and 
this is the theme of this article. The variation in experiences of the 
viewing audience, and the different meanings drawn from televized 
images indicate the difficulty of making easy generalizations of a crudely 
obvious kind, but at the same time, they make for a rich field of study, 
whose primacy is undeniable. 

At its most general level, considered as a medium, television has tra- 
ditionally been regarded in terms of three units; the producers, the pro- 
duct itself and the consumers. These may be called * cultural ’ units, 
since the actions and interactions of the three are enclosed within a 
wider, more amorphous, but nevertheless recognizable entity, the culture. 
Two points arise from this : firstly, when we study television, we are 
studying the culture as a whole; and secondly, since the three units must 
exist together, critical attention needs to consider them as a whole, other- 
wise the depth of meaning indicated by the powerful hold of television 
escapes the attention, and we lose sight of an important determinant and 
indicator of cultural action. In terms of its development television is 
most simply a substitute for other media, from which it draws much of 
its foimat, many of its staple programmes and, as mentioned earlier, the 
critical traditions directed at it. Thus, from the theatre, one finds plays, 
live presentation and, indirectly, the ' theatre ’ which is sport. From the 
cinema, filmed material and the basis for use of visual imagery, from the 
book, the narrative structure of much of the material and from radio the 
very basis of the broadcasting programme. In terms of the producers 
and the product, television is perhaps nearest to radio, but as McLuhan 
points out, there is a striking difference in the experience involved in 
* consuming ’ the two media : 

TV is a cool, participant medium. . . . Radio is a hot medium ... it doesn’t 
invite the same degree of participation in its users. Radio will serve as a back- 
ground sound or as a noise-level control, as when the ingenious teenager 
employs it as a means of privacy. TV . . . engages you. You have to be 
‘ with ' it.2 


64 



The position at present, however, is not one to inspire confidence in the 
likelihood of television criticism receiving the impetus provoked by 
McLuhan with any degree of enthusiasm. The main source of dialogue 
between television and its critics is found in the Press, It is disturbing to 
note how easily much of this writing permits itself to be dismissed. The 
tabloids virtually ignore the subject entirely, while losing no opportunity 
to indulge in the mythology created by popular series such as ' Corona- 
tion Street ’ and ' Till Death Us Do Part ’ in a way which forms an 
interesting adjunct to empirical analysis but makes no contribution to 
that analysis itself. Other critics, particularly in the ' quality ’ papers, 
express an aesthetic derived from the most simplistic elitism associated 
with literary culture (T. C. Worsley, Maurice Wiggin), while the 
majority seem, apart from the occasional penetrating observation, to 
adopt a deliberately ephemeral, cheerful dilletante approach designed to 
foreground their own affectedly ' unpretentious ’ (the most common 
term in television journalism) personalities (Nancy Banks-Smith, George 
Melly). In virtually every instance, television is turned to as a secondary 
interest, a realm to be patronized from the standpoint of the lowest 
critical denominator; the critics’ own disposition and personal quirks. 
T. C. Worsley in his recent publication. Television: the ephemeral art 
presents the best efforts in this field which we have available. 'Diis book 
consists of articles written over a period for the Financial Times, and 
brings to attention many interesting and worthwhile value judgements, 
written in detail about individual landmarks in television history. The 
book reveals the potential of the relationship between television and 
journalism; data can be examined while it is having its social impact 
and depth of response can steadily be built up towards the understanding 
of what television is. This contemporaneity of apprehension and response 
is, I will argue, central to the documentation of television as a cultural 
form. Undoubtedly, Worsley’s aesthetic is short-sighted, and he fails to 
take account of this potential; his purpose is to have television regarded 
as a static art-form, subject to the traditional elitist premises of the mass 
society argument: 

Art is not a democracy run on the proportional representation principle. No 
referendum will decide the worth of a work. Only time will do that. Posterity 
is the ultimate judge. Meanwhile the critic makes his assessment of what 
posterity w’ill decide, and he makes it on the basis of training and experi* 
ence, . . 

The other body of work of any size approaches television from a socio- 
logical perspective. In his account of the development of this discipline, 
Denis McQuail rightly suggests that mass communication research was 
considerably stimulated by a sense of discontent with the mass society 
line: 


65 ' 



What conditions of modern society promote the high levels of media use and 
determine the form it characteristically takes? Mass society theory with its 
prognosis of a trend towards totalitarianism, its adherence to elitist standards 
and its inconsistency with much evidence seems not to provide a satisfactory 
answer.^ 

Much painstaking and honourable work has been carried out at Leicester 
University under the direction of J. D. Halloran, who characterizes the 
researcher of this type thus : 

... an investigator rather than a debater, a curious if cautious character who 
is not known for his involvement or commitment.^ 

Much use can be made of the material evolved by mass communication 
research, but the very caution and reserve which a sociological approach 
necessarily imposes may well restrict the discernment of those cultural 
tendencies associated with television which I have suggested should 
claim the attention of critics. The advances that may result from en- 
gagement in the potentialities of a wide-ranging and bravely intuitive 
eclecticism tend to be stunted by the dealing with small areas and fixed 
questions governed by rigid assumptions about the place of television 
intrinsic to the available sociological methods : 

Television may provide models for identification, confer status on people and 
behaviour, spell out norms, define new situations, provide streotypes, set 
frameworks of anticipation and indicate levels of acceptability, tolerance 
and approval.® 

The three terms with which this quotation is closed indicate the intel- 
lectual ancestry of mass communication sociology, being drawn from the 
vocabulary of liberal values and English empiricism, and suggest the 
reason why the approach seems at once so imposed and so inappropriate 
to the study, especially when the other aspect of mass communications, 
popular culture, is mentioned; it belongs to a quite alien cultural context. 
A further general criticism of mass communication sociology is that it 
offers generous help in locating and identifying the contexts in which 
the units of producers and consumers operate, while being very naive 
and conventional in studying the content of the product itself. Thus, in 
a study of the sociology of television production, Philip Elliott and 
David Chaney indicate the limits of sociology, providing a theoretical 
model for the operation of television production in which the resources 
of the discipline seem to have been used to their ultimate extent in the 
conclusion ; 

The programme is built up of components which gradually acquire greater 
detail and which stand in a relationship of entailment to each other through 
either the technical or stylistic possibilities of the medium.^ 

66 



Any more definite or particular statement would entail the business of 
programme criticism, cultural analysis and the adoption of an aesthetic; 
all outside the realms of their endeavour. Mass communication research 
is normally concerned with the externally obvious effects of television 
with a view to effecting piecemeal changes rather than deriving a total 
synthesis or aesthetic theory. 

The most evident feature of television's output is its tendency to the 
series form. This is a condition not only of the programmes themselves, 
but of the viewers’ habits and the project of television production as it 
has developed from radio. There are several important advantages of 
this form, especially in the realms of drama series, quite apart from 
notions of ' entertainment which tend only to relate to the class posi- 
tions of those using the term, and give no information about the experi- 
ence of viewing the programme in question. The series has the ability 
to present ' rounded ’ characters, real or fictional, known to the audience 
in such a familiar way as to recall McLuhan’s ‘ global village ' notion. 
Secondly, just as images of individual people can be made familiar to 
the audience, so can locales, stock settings, clothing and other objects, 
to take on the form of an iconography. The familiarity is also, though 
less consciously, present in terms of plot structure, and the viewer’s 
response can be altered by subtle variations in this. Fourthly, the series 
can show different aspects of the same subject matter, and frequently 
becomes engaged in subjects of closely contemporary relevance, which 
can be dealt with in a quite poignant fashion. Perhaps most significantly, 
however, the familiarity with a large audience which a series can develop 
leads to public discussion, a very useful indicator of the relationship of 
television to the life and actions of communities or individuals. As a 
simple example, the catch phrase which * catches on ’ can indicate much 
to the attentive observer of the pace and style of life of those using the 
phrase; thus ‘ Sock it to me ! ’ seems so close to the slick, speedy, rhyth- 
mic quality of American national popular culture, along with ' Shoot, 
baby * Like cra2y ’, and scores of comic strip colloquialisms ’ pow ’, 

' Zapp ’ and ' Whoosh ’, while a phrase like ' Yer silly old moo ’ reflects 
the British preference for dialect-humour, associated with the sense of a 
strongly differentiated set of regional traditions in behaviour, as reflected 
in language and humour, as well as an emphasis on the emphasis of such 
phrases in speech, while the American traditionally underplays the catch 
phrase, a negative use being made of the character differentiation pointed 
out by the phrases. 

This * public discussion ’ is a highly informal, unstructured, spontaneous 
phenomenon, which requires very careful observation, otherwise it 
evades analysis. As McLuhan suggests : 

. . . the student of media . . . gets more data from his informants than they 

themselves have perceived. Everybody experiences more than he undrstands. 

'67 



Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behaviour, 
especially In collective matters of media and technology, where the individual 
is almost inevitably unaware of their effect upon him.® 

The study that this essay wishes to initiate is thus one which combines 
close structural analysis of the medium of television with eclectic appre- 
hension of cultural developments. The model offered below suggests 
the kinds of relations that may be regarded as relevant for consideration 
when these twin forms of analysis are being carried out; it is not in- 
tended as a model for the procedure adopted as this would be too res- 
trictive and/or suggestive of details included. The cultural or social 
elements invoked in the study form the context for the means of pro- 
duction of the series, and the audience ' use ’ of it, while the structural 
elements reveal the meanings implicit in the history of the series, its 
origins, iconography, locale, personality-images and plot structure. 



1. Model for the position of television within the national culture 


The most important feature of this model is the inter- related way in 
which each unit, in so far as they can be meaningfully isolated in this 
way, ' feeds ’ on the adjacent one, thus although the producer-product- 
consumer process, which some studies isolate from the rest of the pro- 
cess, is one-way, the whole is a modified circular complex. Thus, an 
awareness of the cross-fertilization of the structural elements and the 
cultural elements referred to above reveals an esoteric structure, whose 
total meaning is dynamic and impossible to isolate at any one time, thus 


68 









giving it an irrational, amorphous quality of the order of a mythology. 
As McQuail notes of a similar study by Edgar Morin : 

The cultural industry is seen to provide the modern equivalent of the themes 
of myth and romance which offer archetypal patterns to guide the human 
spirit. Morin (I960). While these suggestions ate scarcely testable hypotheses, 
they are at least not inconsistent with evidence made available from the studies 
of audience gratifications so far carried out.® 


Total meanings 
(mythology) 


elements 

2. The study of television as culture: procedure for fictional series 

This combination of close study and large integrative theses .as the next 
stage in the contribution to understanding television, pace McLuhan, 
clearly requires an example from the practical business of television 
criticism, * Till Death Us Do Part written by Johnny Speight, was 
popular, controversial and, for a long time, widely favoured critically, 
thus providing an easily available object for the kind of study desirable. 
A brief examination is thus given below to indicate the richness of avail- 
able material, and the kinds of statement we might offer for discussion 
(no final analysis is possible, of course, but all contributions have value). 

I 

The structure of ' Till Death ' was built around the four-character inter- 
play of Alf, Mike, Else and Rita, each having a predictable reaction to 
actions of the others; Alf reactionary, Mike radical, Rita conciliatory and 
Else a ‘ cabbage ’, passive and perplexed. The build up of minor jokes 
leads to a climax, usually followed by a catharsis of violent verbal comedy, 
obscenities usually expressing this. In one scene, Alf wishing to grow 
his hair again, covers has head with paraffin. Mike, finding him asleep, 
paints a comic face on his bald patch. Unfortunately, Alf goes out to the 
pub and becomes a laughing stock. The conventional humour is of the 
mistaken identity type, revolving round hair as a complex symbol of 
potency, youth, and through Mike, association with the contemporary 
fashion for Liverpool against Alf’s east end of London. The humour 
(and hence the most intensely dramatic moment) is at a pitch when Alf 
discovers the truth, juxtaposed with his assumption that the laughter 
had been directed at Mike’s long hair : 


Social /cultural 



Structural 


69 



Yer, talk about laugh. No, but he’s a good boy. He took it well. . . . But it 
w’as a laugh though, it was a laugh (looks in mirror . . . pause . . . yells) 
Who done it? Who bloody done it? I’ll kill ’em! I’ll kill ’em! 

This is typical for the pattern of each programme; rising to a pitch, 
exploding and falling away to another scene. The poignancy, in con- 
temporary terms of the above scene hardly needs further pointing out. 
The iconography of the series is of much interest, providing as it did, a 
stimulating and complex identification symbol for Britain in the sixties; 
this was worked on by writer and producers, but it soon left their con- 
trol, and virtually gained an organic existence in the public use of these 
objects. The back-to-back house, dismal and depressing though it was 
designed to appear, carried with it much of the sentimentality of those 
for whom it held personal meanings in their own experience. The toilet, 
too, intended as a symbol of poverty, was more commonly taken as a 
working class/music-hall comic institution, therefore providing the com- 
plex social and sentimental bond between Alf and his audience. The 
fact that Alf himself became a popular figure testified to the way in 
which the producers had lost their product. Tom Sloan appeared on 
' Talkback ’ to offer an attack on Alf as an institution from a liberal 
middle-class perspective; it was almost an emotional appeal, coming as it 
did adjacent to the emerging Afarcusian notion of the * reactionary 
working class ’ and the skinhead life-style, which owed more than is 
often realized to the persona of Speight’s anti-hero. The series crystal- 
lized the re-emergence of London’s East End and the characteristic 
mythology of community and sentimentality represented at its height by 
Marie Lloyd and later Bud Flanagan as a still potent determinant in 
English culture. The establishment-inspired demise of the show con- 
tributed to the myth, but much of its language and the style of new 
militancy (the London dockers who marched in support of Enoch Powell), 
of the exploited, abused and finally patronized urban proletariat, the 
community most distant from decision-making and its articulate liberal 
middle-class challenge were suddenly brought into vivid focus, particu- 
larly poignant being the immediacy of the contemporary issues each 
edition dealt with as a sub-plot. 

A more precise analysis could only be adequately carried out at the time 
of the series, and the above simply suggests some fruitful lines of in- 
quiry. The details of how the series influenced speech-habits, personal 
relationships, television styles, the public’s image of itself and the impact 
of such a series in adequate depth, with particular reference to viewers’ 
structures of experience, can only be established by sensitive empirical 
inquiry. 

It might be argued that the methodology I have presented here indicates 
a too uncritical reception of McLuhan’s still controversial dicta about 


70 



television. Since 1 hold that no comparable endeavour has been attempted 
and that little critical discussion of his work beyond the glibly dismissive 
exists, and since I am at one with him in the belief that 

One can say of media as Robert Theobald has said of economic depressions : 

’ There is one additional factor that has helped to control depressions, and 
that is a better understanding of their development.* 

I make only a partial apology for this; where a study of such immediacy 
and urgency awaits development, elucidation and exposition should 
precede any categorical aesthetic, particularly one with a value basis. 
This essay is a very preliminary suggestion as to the most valuable course 
such a study might take. 

REFERENCES 

1. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, p 346, Sphere edition, 1964. 

2. Ibid, p 332. 

3. T. C. Worsley, Television: the Ephemeral Art, Alan Ross, 1970. 

4. Denis McQuail, Touards a Sociology of Alass Communications, p 76, 
Collier-Macmillan, 1969. 

5. J. D. Halloran (ed), The Effects of Television, p 11, Panther, 1970. 

6. Ibid, p 11. 

7. Philip Elliot and David Chaney, ' A Sociological Framework for the Study 
of Television Production Sociological Review, Vol 17, No 3, 1969. 

8. McLuhan, op cit, p 340. 

9. McQuail, op cit, p 78. 

10. Johnny Speight, Till Death us do Part, p 47, Pan, 1967. 

11. McLuhan, op cit, p 14. 


'71 



Recent Books 

The Effects of Television. Edited by James D. Halloran (Panther, 10s) 

Television and Delinquency, James D. Halloran, R. L. Brown and D. C. 
Chaney (Leicester University Press, 30s) 

The importance of these two books lies in the fact that without being in 
any way revolutionary they do mark a distinct development in academic 
television research. Their titles are perhaps unfortunate, suggesting as 
they do that TV and delinquency might go together like a horse and 
carriage, and that TV may have quantifiable ' effects ’ (brainwashing? 
immorality? keeping people off the streets at night?). But a sizeable 
proportion of the content goes some way towards qualifying this first 
impression of empirical social science in the service of traditional 
morality. J. D. Halloran, for instance, in the introduction to The Effects 
of Television : * One of the major difficulties which we have to face is 
that research into the effects of television, in fact mass communication 
research generally, has been handicapped by lack of theory. Theory has 
failed to keep pace with techniques, doing has prevailed over thinking. 
This is not unconnected with the fact that a great deal of mass com- 
munication research has been motivated by administrative, service or 
commercial requirements. Generally, this work has been descriptive 
rather than analytical, it has not sought to test hypotheses and it has 
rarely taken sociological or psychological theories as a starting point.’ 

In so far as it relates directly to television, Halloran sees this basically 
dispiriting situation as the produce of a debate dominated by three 
species of clercs, or perhaps we should say executives : the intellectual 
critic/academic elitist, firmly committed to highbrow culture and there- 
fore not a real friend of TV; the practical media man, ' capable of 
rationalizing any conflict ’ between his concern for professional standards 
and his concern for success as defined in business terms; and the social 
scientist, a desperately cautious figure prone to using ' the most obscure 
language to relate the obvious ’ and by no means above the suspicion of 
having sold out to the media executive. We could add two further 
factors : the failure of TV practitioners themselves to develop anything 
like a theory, or even a coherent code of practice, and the propensity of 
‘ decision-makers ’, whether versed in TV or not, to discuss it principally 
in terms of technology. In the vacuum caused by the fumblings of these 
worthies, the notion of effects (which has given us Mary Whitehouse) 
and the practice of quantitative head-counting could flourish peacefully. 

In his chapter titled ' The social effects of television ’ Halloran decisively 
undermines the crude schemas of television’s ‘ influence ’. In future, TV 
will have to be studied, not'in terms of its influence per se, but rather 
in terms of its influence through interpersonal relationships and social 


72 



settings. TV is a part of society, its influences can only be understood in 
relation to other, more powerful and deeply rooted influences at work 
in a given society. The important factor is the process of socialization 
itself. Certain tendencies, certain moments in this process may or may 
not be confirmed by things perceived on TV, and to these possible con- 
fluences the researcher should address himself. 

The necessity of this revision is confirmed by Television and Delinquency. 
In many ways, this volume, which is the third working paper of the 
Television Research Centre, is a classic of old-style research. 

It centres on a survey of the viewing habits and preferences of a group 
of 334 teenagers on probation. Their responses to a set questionnaire are 
compared closely with the responses of another group, similar in every 
way except for having a clean sheet with the law. They are also com- 
pared with the responses of another group described as lower middle 
class, by which is meant ‘ respectable ' working-class kids with some 
educational and social aspirations. 

Among other things, the respondents were asked : Why they watched 
TV, what it made them feel, what they liked it to make them feel, what 
sorts of programmes they really liked and disliked, and why, what 
people appearing on TV they particularly liked or disliked, whether 
there was any particular scene, incident, special thing or special moment 
seen on TV that ' sticks out in your memory whether they watched TV 
in company, whether they were in the habit of discussing it with family 
or anyone else. 

In general, the responses to these questions are highly inconclusive, as 
the authors are at pains to point out in their thoughtful introduction. 
Statistical significance between the three samples is often hard to find. 
For instance : 28 per cent of the (male) probationer sample spontane- 
ously mentioned ‘ exciting ' thrilling ’ or ' adventurous ’ as a descrip- 
tion of ideal television fare, as did 27 per cent of the control sample 
and 20 per cent of the lower middle class sample. A parallel question 
asked the respondents for a word^ to describe the feeling or emotion they 
ideally would like TV to produce in them: here 12 per cent of proba- 
tioners, 8 per cent of the control, and 5 per cent of the lower middle 
class came up spontaneously with ‘excitement’ (again all males). The 
report summarizes : ‘ once again the boys in the probationer sample gave 
answers of this sort more often than either of the other two, and . . . 
there is a linear trend from the probationers to the lower middle class 
boys. However, the difference between even these two extreme groups 
barely reaches a level of statistical significance ’ (our italics). Where 
there is significance, the tables tend to confirm expectations : the lower 
middle class boys are more likely to watch TV for purposes of interest 
and information, delinquency is shown to bear a strong relationship 


73 



with absent parents and with poverty, financial and cultural. In remem- 
bering TV moments that had particularly impressed them, ' male pro- 
bationers were more likely to refer to an identifiable hero figure than 
were other boys (although only the difference between the probationer 
and control samples, is statistically significant).’ But this line of inquiry 
reveals an interesting twist: if the probationers had a tendency -to re- 
member heroes, the lower middle class boys chose * feats of prowess ’ : 
19 per cent, as against 11 per cent of probationers and 2 per cent of the 
control. Could there be a tie-in here, on the level of images, between 
the feats of prowess these ' good ’ boys admired on the screen and the 
feats of prowess they were likely to have to accomplish in realizing some 
of their aspirations? Another interesting sidelight in this connection: 
when it came to remembering heroes, the girl respondents more or less 
disappeared (‘answer frequencies for females too low for analysis’). 
Is this a reflection on the fact that television shows us no genuinely 
aggressive heroines, or on the dispossessed condition of teenage girls in 
general? On both, obviously; oppression of women goes to such lengths 
that girls don’t even make it to delinquency. They are left with pop 
stars, the particular moments of whose television life they don’t quite 
recall. 

The main conclusions of the report are as follows : that delinquents are 
less used than others to talking about television and articulating their 
reactions (cognitive poverty); that Schramm’s polarities of ‘ fantasy 
seeking ’ and ' reality seeking ’ are to some extent justified, and that the 
principal line of cleavage is located between the classes and not between 
delinquents and non-delinquents. Being a delinquent ' intensifies tastes 
which are also a more general feature of the working-class subculture ’. 
As far as television is concerned, it could be that delinquents, or some of 
them, use it in a justificatory or ' rationalizing ’ manner. There is not 
enough evidence for this hypothesis to be proved, as yet, though it can’t 
be excluded either. Television and Delinquency tells us considerably 
more about delinquency, and, by extension, about the society we live in, 
than it does about television or about a still hypothetical relationship 
between television and delinquency. It seems pretty clear that this kind 
of research is still very inhibited when it comes to going beyond how 
people, be they delinquent or respectable, respond to TV, to approach 
analysis of the medium itself. 

Roger L. Brown, in his chapter in The Effects of Television on Tele- 
vision and the Arts, asks two leading questions: Is TV really an art 
form? and To what degree have the latent potentialities of television 
been in fact realized? but singularly fails to provide anything like an 
answer, even in the most hypothetical terms. Social scientific research, as 
at present constituted, is not equipped to deal with the real problems of 
television. Dr Brown raises the possibility that TV may ' potentially be 

74 



increasing our visual sensibilities at the same time as it weakens our 
reliance on the printed word This is the point at which we need a 
study of how, visually, TV works, of what the signs in TV do, a study 
which should not be tied to the spectre of illiteracy. It is most unsatis- 
factory to omit this study while speculating vaguely on a possible role 
for TV in a supposed awakening, by (the British), * to an awareness of 
their visual environment (This means that some people are worried 
about motorways.) At other points Dr Brown is all too prepared to 
reproduce the arguments of the more backward TV executives : ' It can 
well be argued that it would be wrong to use a medium such as TV, 
which as presently organized reaches a very large and heterogeneous 
audience, to transmit or discuss work which is still at an experimental 
stage of development,’ Here one could surely expect the point to be 
made that no art-form has ever lived or developed without the trans- 
mission of experiments. Dr Brown makes it, but in a flat and impover- 
ished form ; ' Of course, if television never attempted something novel, 
then programming would rapidly become static and stale. . . But it’s 
a question of living and changing, not of balance and novelty. 

The chapters (in Effects) on politics and education treat their material 
with a similar dryness. Mr Peter Masson offers some useful, statistics on 
the (narrowly-interpreted) effects of 'TV on cinema, the press and 
advertising. It is left to Dr Halloran to begin the asking of qualitative 
questions, and he does this to some extent in the last few pages of his 
chapter on social effects, when he questions the criteria of news and 
current-affairs coverage. ' What pictures of the world are being offered 
to us? ’ 

This development in a science hitherto characterized by empirical figure- 
collecting should be saluted. It also draws attention to the pitifully 
under-developed craft of television criticism. Critics can hardly expect 
social scientists to do the work they themselves have failed to do. Dr 
Halloran himself calls for this : ' A systematic study of what television 
provides, whilst not telling us what happens to people, will tell us what 
is available, what there is for tliem to use.’ He sees some hope for a 
possible alliance between critics who are concerned about democracy and 
would like to see new patterns of media ownership and control, between 
more critical social scientists and more concerned creative people from 
the media themselves. In view of the present state of British television, 
in which the main positive developments of the first half of the 1960s 
have been more or less thrown out of the window in response to various 
degrees of pressure, such an alliance is urgent. But it can only happen if 
the critics themselves establish the systematic, analytical accounts which 
Halloran calls for. 

Christopher Williams 


75 



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Education Notes 


Introduction 

This section of the journal has been introduced to provide a more direct 
link between the Society and its services on the one hand, and the teacher 
and the classroom on the other. Its main aim will be to bring to those 
engaged in film teaching information of immediate and practical help 
in their work. 

Screen has always seen the servicing of the teacher as an important 
aspect of its activities. Setting aside a special section of the journal for 
this purpose it gives form and coherence to an established tradition. The 
journal is one part of a developing complex of services and the Notes 
will often best fulfil their function by simply pointing to the existence 
of these services and noting new materials as they arise. 

New Advisory Documents, extracts and study units will be announced 
as they become available, where possible with some critical assessment of 
their usefulness in the context of education. 16 mm distribution will re- 
ceive special attention and from time to time we will feature a particular 
distributor whose library seems to us to cater for a particular area. In 
this issue that place is given over to Educational and Television Films 
(ETV). 

The Notes will also provide schools and colleges where film is taught 
with a regular means of keeping in touch with activities in this field. 
Advance notice will be given of film courses and brief reports will be 
published on the problems raised and discussed at these courses. 

While the content of this section of the journal has been defined in 
general terms it will remain flexible: it is hoped that members them- 
selves will provide the main guide to the kind of information .and 
material which can most usefully be included. 

D.M. 


77 




A note on the selection and use 
of Film Extracts 


In a recent issue of Screen Colin McArthur described the procedure for 
selecting the extracts that are available in the BFI’s Distribution Library. 
In this note I want to raise an issue that he was only able to touch on, 
the critical and educational principles that lie behind extract selection. 
In doing this I have put the practical problems to one side. That is, in 
order to make my argument clearer I have assumed that it is possible to 
get any film material we want. 

I can, perhaps, dramatize the issue I want to raise by referring to one 
particular extract, the extract from They were Expendable. The extract 
consists mainly of the attack on and destruction of the Japanese cruisers 
by the American motor torpedo boats. Anybody who saw this extract 
before they saw the complete film would get a misleading impression of 
the film. The extract suggests the film is about an American victory. In 
fact the film is built round one of the worst American defeats during the 
Second World War. Most of the sequences show the Americans in re- 
treat with the Japanese persistently harrying them. 

I don’t want simply to argue that the extract is a * wrong ’ one. I want to 
call attention to the reasons for its selection. The extract is meant to be 
representative of American war ‘films, particularly those about the 
Second World War. These films are believed to glorify war, use vio- 
lence as a simple device to create dramatic excitement without any aware- 
ness of the moral issues. This use of violence poses to be naively 
patriotic. The kind of interest in the cinema comes from a social/critical 
position that has dominated much of the discussion of the cinema in this 
country and had a particularly strong influence on film education during 
the late 1940s and 1950s. 

If an extract were to be selected from They ivere Expendable at the 
present time, I don’t think the same section of the film would be chosen. 
Guessing, I think it would be one of the retreat scenes or possibly the 


78 




sequence where the officers give a special dinner for the nurse they meet. 
Such an extract would reflect a different critical/educational position. 
This position would put more stress on aesthetic issues and less on social 
ones (it would be less concerned with the supposed effect of the film on 
the audience); it would be more director oriented than genre oriented 
(it would be more interested in the category ‘ John Ford films ’.than it 
would be in the category ' American war films ’). 

The point I’m trying to make by this discussion of the extract from 
They were Expendable is that extract selection is not an objective or 
neutral activity but is made on the basis of certain critical/educational 
assumptions. If the whole of the BFI’s extract library is looked at I 
think it can be seen that two different critical/educational positions have 
predominantly influenced the selection of extracts. The first (chrono- 
logically) was the position developed by the British adaptation and 
popularization of Eisenstein’s ideas through the writings of Roger 
Manvell, Ernest Lindgren, etc. The second was the position developed 
when F. R. Leavis’s critical ideas were translated into film criticism. 

Both positions had two components. In the case of the first these were : 
an aesthetic component based on a technical analysis of films in terms of 
the idea of a film ' language ’ (a shot equals a word, a sequence a sen- 
tence, editing devices are the grammar); and a social component based 
on a concern with the supposed effects of films on their audiences. In 
the case of the second they were : an aesthetic component based on an 
interpretative analysis of films to discover the nature of the values they 
expressed; and a social component that was much the same as the first 
position’s. The perfect examples of extracts selected on the basis of the 
first position are, the extract of the first ten shots of Great Expectations 
(aesthetic) and the extract from They were Expendable (social). The 
perfect examples of extracts selected on the basis of the second position 
are the extracts from My Darling Clementine or Nazarin (aesthetic) and 
the extracts from The Guns of Navarone or The Depant Ones (social). 

The objections to both these positions should by now be familiar to the 
readers of Screen. My purpose in this note is not to re-state them but 
simply to call attention to the assumptions behind the selection of ex- 
tracts so that both their selection and their use can become a more con- 
scious and considered matter than they have been in the past. 

In this connection it’s worth mentioning two points of educational in- 
terest. 'The first point is that extracts chosen on the basis of the first 
position tend to be short and precise illustrations of a point, eg the first 
ten shots of Great Expectations. Extracts chosen from the second posi- 
tion tend to be long and complex since they are meant to provide the 
basis for an interpretation of the whole film. In educational terms I 


79 



think there is much to be said for extracts of the first kind; extracts of 
the second kind confuse viewers by involving them in the narrative 
and then frustrating them by aitting it off at an arbitrary point and by 
trying to give some sense of the whole film and raising too many points. 
The second point is that the selection of extracts is something of a 
totalitarian act. An extract suggests a particular interpretation of a film 
or film-maker. Another .extract might suggest another kind of interpret- 
ation. But that extract is not available. Contrast the situation with the 
discussion of literature. A teacher dealing with a particular interpreta- 
tion of a novel or a poem can in almost all cases go back to the novel or 
poem and quote passages that support his interpretation. 

What implications do the points I've made have for the selection and 
use of extracts? Two principles seem to be in conflict here. The first is 
that since the BFI Is the only extensive source of extracts it cannot im- 
pose a particular view of the cinema or film education through its selec- 
tion of extracts. That is it would be wrong to impose a view on film 
educationists through the control of basic teaching materials. The second 
is that it would be an evasion to give the illusion that all critical posi- 
tions are of equal value and deserving of equal consideration. It seems 
to me that the only possible way to resolve the conflict is by a split. 
Extract selection should meet the first principle. Extracts should be 
chosen on the basis of a self-conscious pluralism. Any substantial critical 
educational position should be represented in the extract library so that 
teachers holding a particular position will find material that can be used 
to illustrate it. The second principle should be met by discussion which 
exposes particular critical positions making people aware of their 
strengths and weaknesses. 

A.L. 


New Extracts 


Written on the Wind, Douglas Sirk (1956) 

This is the first extract to be made from a work by Douglas Sirk and its 
preparation is in line with the growing interest in this director. The 
extract chosen begins as Kyle Hadley (Robert Stack) leaves the doctor's 
surgery believing himself to be sterile, shows his sister Marylee (Dorothy 


80 



think there is much to be said for extracts of the first kind; extracts of 
the second kind confuse viewers by involving them in the narrative 
and then frustrating them by aitting it off at an arbitrary point and by 
trying to give some sense of the whole film and raising too many points. 
The second point is that the selection of extracts is something of a 
totalitarian act. An extract suggests a particular interpretation of a film 
or film-maker. Another .extract might suggest another kind of interpret- 
ation. But that extract is not available. Contrast the situation with the 
discussion of literature. A teacher dealing with a particular interpreta- 
tion of a novel or a poem can in almost all cases go back to the novel or 
poem and quote passages that support his interpretation. 

What implications do the points I've made have for the selection and 
use of extracts? Two principles seem to be in conflict here. The first is 
that since the BFI Is the only extensive source of extracts it cannot im- 
pose a particular view of the cinema or film education through its selec- 
tion of extracts. That is it would be wrong to impose a view on film 
educationists through the control of basic teaching materials. The second 
is that it would be an evasion to give the illusion that all critical posi- 
tions are of equal value and deserving of equal consideration. It seems 
to me that the only possible way to resolve the conflict is by a split. 
Extract selection should meet the first principle. Extracts should be 
chosen on the basis of a self-conscious pluralism. Any substantial critical 
educational position should be represented in the extract library so that 
teachers holding a particular position will find material that can be used 
to illustrate it. The second principle should be met by discussion which 
exposes particular critical positions making people aware of their 
strengths and weaknesses. 

A.L. 


New Extracts 


Written on the Wind, Douglas Sirk (1956) 

This is the first extract to be made from a work by Douglas Sirk and its 
preparation is in line with the growing interest in this director. The 
extract chosen begins as Kyle Hadley (Robert Stack) leaves the doctor's 
surgery believing himself to be sterile, shows his sister Marylee (Dorothy 


80 



Malone) picking up a petrol pump attendant and the father Jasper 
Hadley (Robert Keith) breaking down to lament his failure as a father. 
The final scenes show Jasper Hadley’s death — his collapse at the top 
of the staircase and his fall are intercut with shots of Marylee’s wild 
dance in her upstairs room to the deafening sound of her record player. 

La Guerre est fiuie, Alain Resnais (1965) 

There are now two extracts available from major films by this director : 
the first came from Hiroshima mon amour. The new extract lasts eight- 
een minutes and includes scenes which bear on a number of central 
themes. Diego (Yves Montand) is seen with the two women in his life 
and in the context of two revolutionary movements, the old and the 
new. The opening shots are of Diego and Marianne (Ingrid Thulin) 
stopped by a policeman for ignoring traffic lights just before she de- 
posits a case of explosives at a left-luggage safe. Their subsequent con- 
versation in the car centres on the possibility of a revolution beginning 
in Spain, she expresses hope, and he disillusionment. Diego then meets 
Nadin (Genevieve Bujold) and is talren to a group of young revolu- 
tionaries whose assessment of the situation in Spain is different and 
alien; he returns to the flat to learn that an old revolutionary, Ramon, 
has died. Diego’s vision of the funeral is projected on to the screen. The 
extract ends as he leaves for Barcelona on a mission. 

EXTRACTS IN PREPARATION 

Pierrot le jou, J.-L. Godard 
Double Indemnity, Billy Wilder 
Early Spring, Yasujiru Ozu. 


81 



SEFT PUBLICATIONS 

readers who wish to take advantage of the limited stocks of back numbers 

still available should fill in the 

coupon below. 1 

screen education yearbook 

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1964 

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1969 

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young film makers (a primer on the organization of film making by 
young people in school, college and youth clubs). lOp (2s) 

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16 mm Distributors 


EDUCATIONAL AND TELEVISION FILMS LTD 

There is no particular reason why the first of a series of brief surveys of 
16 mm distribution libraries should look at ETV but it is an interesting, 
useful and not too well-known library and a few words about it on the 
twentieth anniversary of Plato Films, from which ETV grew, seem 
appropriate. 

Despite the anniversary ETV’s is not a conventional success story. The 
16 mm library makes little or no money but was not set up to do so. 
With various donations, including money left by George Bernard Shaw 
to British-Soviet Friendship Houses Ltd, ETV was established for politi- 
cal and cultural reasons, to provide a distribution system for a wide 
range of film material from the people’s democracies. The 16 mm library 
just about keeps itself afloat but the operation is subsidized by the sale, 
mostly to television, of archive material, a fair amount of it from the 
1930s, much of it unique. 

The briefest look at ETV’s catalogues (one for Documentary, another 
for Feature, Cartoon and Puppet Films) indicates the library’s orienta- 
tion. Almost all the material is from the USSR, East Germany, Czecho- 
slovakia, Cuba. This gives the wrong impression in the sense that the 
library would equally like to distribute radical films from Western 
Europe and America, and would do so if it could afford print costs, but 
it gives the right impression in' that the founder-manager, Stanley 
Forman, has been a committed left-wing socialist since the 1930s. 
Forman recalls an exhibition about the Spanish Civil War at which 
films were shown round the clock. He wants his own films ' to do some- 
thing useful . . . to extend people’s horizons ’. He feels that when he 
began he overestimated what film could achieve but he still feels that it 
can and should do something. Some films, he says — and typically he 
mentioned a film (Santiago Alvarez’s Noiv) he does not distribute him- 
self — can change something, make people think again. He summarizes 
his effort over twenty years as ‘ a spit in the ocean . . . but in the right 
direction 


63 




As one would expect, Forman does not see his function as primarily one 
of disseminating the art of the film. The educational hirers who consti- 
tute three-quarters of the total are interested mainly in documentary 
material suitable for use in teaching geography, social studies, history. 
For those socialist countries which do not operate their own ambassa- 
dorial libraries, as Poland does, ETV is the only major source of this 
kind of material. The increasing use of ETV by university departments 
reflects the growth in the library of an important collection of historical 
Soviet material, much of it on Lenin. 

ETV’s documentary material has little trouble finding an educational 
market but the same is not true of its feature material since, almost 
alone among distributors, ETV has no commercial showcase in which to 
bring its material, especially its new material, to public notice. Classic 
Soviet material (some of it shared with other distributors) like Potemkin, 
Storm over Asia or Donskoi’s Gorky trilogy apart, ETV’s features are 
not too well known but the fact that most of them have been considered 
uncommercial by other distributors is an indication less of quality than 
of fashion and the vagaries of the commercial distribution system. Of 
great interest in the catalogue are less famous Soviet features like 
Romm’s Lenin in October and Lenin in 1918, both of them important 
for an understanding of Soviet cinema in the 1930s, and Donskoi’s 
Village Teacher, A Mother’s Loyalty and his remake of Mother. A re- 
cent major addition is Three Songs of Lenin, one of Dziga Vertov’s best 
films. Elsewhere the catalogue includes some valuable Cuban material, 
including Santiago Alvarez’s 79 Springs, and a lot of good Czechoslovak 
features, many of which have been very favourably received outside 
Britain (for example, Bocan’s No Laughing Matter, Papousek’s The 
Best Age, Brynych's The Fifth Rider is Fear and Transport from Para- 
dise). A major coup for ETV was their acquisition of three features by 
Ewald Schorm: The Return of the Prodigal Son, Saddled with Five 
Girls and Pastor’s End. Schorm, ignored by commercial distributors, may 
turn out to be the most important of the new Czechoslovak directors and 
Saddled with Five Girls may prove to be the best film to emerge from 
the Czechoslovak cinema in the 1960s. 

Catalogues from: ETV, 2 Doughty Street, London WClN 2PJ. 


84 



16 mm News 


An important 16 mm event in 1969*70 was the addition of some major 
movies made by John Ford for 20th Century Fox — The Grapes of 
Wrath, Steamboat Round the Bend, Young Air Lincoln, The Prisoner 
of Shark Island and Tobacco Road — as well as Jean Renoir’s Stvamp 
Water. (Following the break-up of the Warner-Pathe library in Sep- 
tember 1970, all these films are now distributed by Rank.) 

Now in 1970-71, FDA have acquired an important batch of Warner 
Brothers films from the 1930s and 19d0s. Some of them have never 
been available on 16 mm before and taken as a collection they fill some 
great historical gaps. Among the films are works by directors like Walsh 
and Huston, but they are chiefly important in filling gaps in genre study 
material. The gangster film is particularly well represented with films 
like Little Caesar (Leroy, 1930), Public Enejiiy (Wellman, 1931), 
Bullets or Ballots (Keighley, 1936), High Sierra (Walsh, 1941), The 
Roaring Twenties (Walsh, 1939) and White Heat (Walsh, 1949). In a 
related gentre, the plm noir, there are significant examples like Dark 
Passage (Daves, 1947), The Alaltese Falcon (Huston, 1941), Across the 
Pacific (Huston, 1942), Casablanca (Curtiz, 1943) and The Mask of 
Dimitrios (Negulesco, 1944). Study examples on the musical have 
always been limited by a shortage of examples of Busby Berkeley’s work 
but FDA now offer Dames (Enright and Berkeley, 1934), 42nd Street 
(Bacon and Berkeley, 1933) and. Gold Diggers of 1933 (Leroy and 
Berkeley, 1933). 

A number of generally recognized ' classics ’ also become available 
again: The Treasure of Sierra Aladre (Huston, 1948), Sergeant York 
(Hawks, 1941), A Aiidsummer Night’s Dream (Dieterle and Reinhardt, 

1935) and Arsenic and Old Lace (Capra, 1944). 

Others in the batch include: The Beast with Five Fingers (Florey, 
1946), Dr Ehrich’s Alagic Bullet (Dieterle, 1940), Doctor X (Curtiz, 
1932), The Petrified Forest (Mayo, 1936), Dawn Patrol (Goulding, 
1938), The Sea Hawk (Curtiz, 1940), The Walking Dead (Curtiz, 

1936) and The Verdict (Siegel, 1946). 


85 




EDUCATIONAL & TELEVISION FILMS Ltd 


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Seft/llea Film Teaching 
Experiment 


The difficulties of establishing film teaching in schools are well docu- 
mented. Individual teachers have for many years overcome their particu- 
lar practical problems in a variety of familiar ways : using free loan 
films, depending on film society films, integrating film study into 
thematic English teaching or Sixth Form General Studies. Such, how- 
ever, was the isolation of film teachers, that each had to work out his 
own salvation — often at the expense of a film teacher elsewhere who 
was perhaps a day later in booking the single distribution copy of any of 
the British Film Institute’s study extracts. 

The Inner London Education Authority had for many years included 
some film study material in its film library and was anxious to develop 
film teaching more systematically within its Secondary Schools. An 
experiment was therefore set up jointly by SEFT and the Authority’s 
Aural and Visual Aids Inspectorate in order to examine ways of intro- 
ducing film teaching into schools that were both practicable and edu- 
cationally valuable. As it was felt that the experiment might prove ex- 
tremely popular, it was limited to Secondary Schools in one of the 
Authority’s divisions. Eventually, eight schools, encompassing about 150 
children took part. Most schools were non-selective, though two were 
voluntary aided grammar schools. 

The groups that took part were mainly in their fourth year and most of 
them were potential early school leavers. The ability level of the children 
was, however, very wide, some being in remedial classes, others in ' O ’ 
Level groups. It was essential that the groups were teaching units so 
that most of the experiment could take place within the children’s 
timetable and familiar classroom conditions. 

Although some of the schools that took part already had an established 
interest in film teaching, none of the teachers whose groups attended 
had any previous film teaching experience. Some were English teachers, 
but remedial and social studies teachers were represented. Most became 
involved because of a personal interest in film and a desire to pass on 
this enthusiasm to pupils for whom they were responsible. 

The aims of the course may be summarized as follows : 

1. To provide a course in which the children might become involved 
because it would have as its starting point exactly those films that 
children would choose to see at the local cinema. 


87 




2. To provide for teachers who were enthusiastic about film teaching 
but who had little formal knowledge of the cinema, sufficient sup- 
port materials to enable them to make a start. 

3. To provide facilities for a central viewing of feature films so that 
the greatest cost factor in screen education — film hire for small 
groups — could be overcome. 

4. To examine the practicability of such centrally provided courses 
with a view to possible extension of the service in the ILEA. 

The one-term course consisted of four two-week units, each based around 
a feature demonstrating a particular cinematic genre. The pattern of 
sessions would be: 

1. Previewing and discussion of feature by teachers at British Film 
Institute. 

2. Central screening of feature for groups of pupils and their teachers 
at private cinema. 

3. Follow-up to feature in schools using sets of slides, duplicated 
materials, etc. 

4. Previewing and selection of extracts by teachers at British Film 
Institute. 

5. Viewing of extracts in individual schools. 

6. Follow-up to extracts in schools. 

The material was selected and prepared by the SEFT Teacher Adviser. 

The features chosen were The Brides of Dracida, Here We Go Round 
the Mulberry Bush and The Bravados as representative of Horror, 
Comedy and Western genres respectively, and Bonnie and Clyde as a 
genre film that was also stylistically interesting. 

It was originally intended that screenings should be centralized at a 
school or college within Division 1 which had particularly good projec- 
tion facilities. Unfortunately, at the last minute this proved impossible 
and a private cinema had to be used. It was felt that an essential pre- 
requisite of the course was that the features should be viewed in as near 
ideal conditions as possible. 

Each film was introduced briefly and set into its genre context, but most 
discussion was left to the individual teacher to undertake subsequently 
in school. 

Follow-Up to Features 

Material made available to teachers for use in their own schools included 
extracts, duplicated sheets and slides. The two last were available 
throughout a particular fortnight and individual teachers could use 
these or not as they chose. Several sets of slides and copies of sets were 
available. For example, for the Horror Film, there were three sets 


88 



covering ' Origins of the Horror Film ' Staples of Horror ’ Varia- 
tions on the Horror Theme 

The slides were largely made from stills available in the National Film 
Archive and were accompanied by detailed notes for the teacher. 

The duplicated materials were prepared in sufficient quantities to be 
issued to individual children. These consisted firstly of conflicting re- 
views of the feature — ^ taken from the more popular newspapers and 
therefore directly comparable with reviews about current films that the 
child could have access to in his family’s daily paper. Other material 
included copies of distributors’ press-handouts, copies of articles on, say, 
Hammer Films from the press and short pieces from books on the 
cinema, on for example the Ealing tradition. 

Sufficient extracts were available to enable each school participating to 
have at least one for the whole of the second week of each unit. In 
addition, one of the aims of limiting the experiment to one ILEA divi- 
sion was to enable teachers to swap extracts between their schools. 
After the previewing of extracts, teachers selected those that they felt 
most appropriate to their approach or which they felt they could handle 
sympathetically. Documentation was available with the extracts. 

Reactions from the schools 

Since most of the teachers involved were self-confessed novices in screen 
education, they inevitably felt that they would be better film teachers 
' next time ’ and tended to be dissatisfied with their initial performance. 
However, all were enthusiastic about the interest the film course had 
aroused amongst their children and the general request was that in any 
subsequent course there should be opportunity for the teachers to meet 
for longer periods to discuss the potentialities of film and materials. In 
addition several requested that the introduction to the films should be 
more substantial and should involve giving the children some insight 
into film-making. 

All teachers reported a general enthusiasm from their pupils. However, 
on visiting the schools, it was clear that a great variety of approaches 
was being tried out, depending on how much time in school could be 
devoted to the film course and which subject umbrella the teacher 
taught under. 

Where time was short and most work took the form of discussion, there 
was naturally less involvement of the children than in schools where a 
teacher had a general responsibility for a group of leavers and was able 
to develop written work, painting, etc, as part of the course. 

Most teachers seemed to measure the success of the project by the 
children’s ability to articulate their responses to the films. In many cases 


89 



this meant that children developed an ability to see films in a more 
objective manner than they had done previously. 

What was also stressed was the social value for what might be regarded 
as the ' underprivileged ’ children. The fact that this course was aimed 
at early leavers and less able children and that they were the ones to go 
on a special course often helped to give some prestige to groups of 
children who tended to see themselves, however inaccurately, as the 
poor relations. 

Recommendations 

1. To meet the request of the teachers for more guidance for them- 
selves and to enable them to play a greater part in the construction 
of any future course, I would recommend that a complete short 
course be run for teachers in say the Autumn Term, and that part 
of this course be to plan the course that the children will partici- 
pate in during either the Spring or Summer Term. This teachers’ 
course could also select and prepare the teaching materials. 

2. The feasibility of this kind of project where children have to 
come together for central screenings is undoubtedly proven. Pro- 
vided that there is a well-equipped cinema in an ILEA school or 
college in each division, this kind of course can be mounted very 
cheaply, as hire costs for films can be shared and there would be 
no charge for the premises. 

3. The greatest single problem is the availability of extract material, 
since effectively only one distribution copy of each is available 
from the BFL I would recommend that the ILEA cooperate with 
the BFI Education Department in approaching distributors and 
that the Authority build up a collection of extracts in its own film 
library. The BFI could provide the experts to select specific 
material for extracting, with the teachers’ courses, both suggesting 
the kind of films to be examined for extracts and subsequently 
experimenting with ways in which extracts could be used. 

4. There are a number of established film teachers already known to 
the ILEA Aural and Visual Aids Inspectorate who could be called 
upon to act as organizers for any future experiment. If the 
teachers’ courses were organized on a workshop basis so that the 
formal lectures were limited, the absence of experienced course 
organizers would not be important. Certainly those teachers who 
took part in this Experiment would have a role to play here. 

Terry Bolas 


90 



APPENDIX I 


SCHOOLS TAKING PART 



Numbers 

Year 

Chelsea Secondary School 

20 

boys 

IV 

Christopher Wren Secondary School 

S 

boys 

IV 

Convent of the Sacred Heart High School 

20 

girls 

Lower VI 

Holland Park School 

10 

boys 

IV 

Holland Park School 

10 

girls 

IV 

Isaac Newton School 

25 

boys 

IV 

London Oratory School 

18 

boys 

IV 

St Thomas More R.C. Secondary School 

14 

boys 

V 

Sion Manning 

19 

girls 

IV 


APPENDIX II 


COURSE TIMETABLE 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 


HORROR 


'The 

20-24 April 


Brides of 
Dracula 

HORROR 

The 

Extracts 

29 April-1 May 

Brides of 

on 


Dracula 

Horror 

HORROR/ 

Tomb of Ligeia — Peeping Tom — 

Here We 

COMEDY 

Frankenstein — King Kong — Dracula — 

Go Round 

4-8 May 

From Russia uith Love 

the 


Mulberry 

Bush 

COMEDY 

Here We 

Extracts 

11-15 May 

Go Round 

on 

the 

Mulberry 

Bush 

Comedy 

COMEDY 

Nothing But The Best — What’s New 


18-22 May 

Pussycat? — The Lady Killers — Lavender 
Hill Mob — Very Important Person — 
Kind Hearts & Coronets 



91 



THE WESTERN 

HALF TERM 

The 

25-29 May 


Bravados 

THE WESTERN 

The 

Extracts 

1-5 June 

Bravados 

on 

Western 

WESTERN/ 

The Big Sky — My Darling Clementine — 

Bonnie 

DIRECTORS 

Tu’o Rode Together — Gunfighter — 

and 

8-12 June 

Couboy — Man from Laramie — Stage 
Coach Driver and The Girl — The Great 
Train Robbery 

Clyde 

DIRECTORS 

Bonnie 

Directors 

15-19 June 

and 

Clyde 

Extracts 

DIRECTORS 

The Miracle Worker (two copies) — 


22-26 June 

Great Expectations — The Criminal — 
Seventh Seal — Some Like It Hot — Lotna 



92